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What's In A Name?

February 15

I was playing around on Facebook the other day and my sister, Bob (her given name is Roberta), started instant messaging. We don't do this very often, but it was amazing how we communicated with so few words and simple references from our childhood. She knew immediately when I referenced "the Puffies" as that being the family from our hometown who had a penchant for down coats. Even her own name was an inside term, as she jettisoned "Bob" as soon as she got to college.

Job titles that are posted on healthcare career web sites are fairly similar to my internet conversation with Bob—often times riddled with inside references and descriptions that leave the prospective candidates wondering. It seems we continue to talk among ourselves and have no concern that we are speaking with inside jargon that potential candidates may find confusing.

For someone who wants to work in the laundry, they might need to consider applying for a position as a Textile Engineer or a Linen Services Technician. What ever happened to a simple category called Laundry? And what about a Patient Care Associate (PCA) as opposed to Patient Services Associate (PSA)? One touches the patient and the other does not. One cleans the room and the other is really a Certified Nurse Assistant or a CNA. Nonetheless, if you are going to apply appropriately, you better become adept at figuring out the code.

Acronyms are big too and most times they are not defined. Can you guess what a TMA is or a HUC? That would be a Trained Medical Aide and a Housekeeping Unit Coordinator. Both entry-level and both the same position as a PCA and a PSA. Who would know?

"My staff knows they can clean a room" said a Housekeeping Manager of a large healthcare system, "they just want to find a listing that says housekeeping." Well, for right now they might want to consider applying for an Environmental Services Worker because you would be hard pressed to find Housekeeper.

Not being able to easily locate the type of position a candidate may be looking for is not limited to entry-level. A Registered Nurse with ten years experience in transplantation wanted to work for a respected healthcare facility in the Midwest, but was confused when she found that she couldn't just look for RN positions, but rather had to apply via departments unique to that facility. Once she found the Liver Transplantation Department she felt she had arrived until she hit the button and found they only had an opening for a Social Worker II. Should she open all the various departments and see if an appropriate position was available or simply move on to another hospital that listed all open RN positions in language she could easily understand?

Over the years, job descriptions have morphed from simple and straightforward, to fancy and confusing. Who might apply as an Admission Discharge and Transfer Management Coordinator? Or what about a Cancer Guide? For the record, both of those require a Master's in Social Work.

I thought Patient Centered Interactive Therapist and Community Depression Consultant sounded interesting, but also thought the name badge might need to be XXL. Besides- aren't all healthcare employees supposed to be patient centered? And if you were an interactive therapist, did that involve a variety of "apps" aimed at a whole depressed community? With further investigation, a qualified candidate needed to be a Clinical Psychologist. I thought about someone with a PhD actually digging through to recognize that was the position for which they were looking.

New York Presbyterian has done a really good job in reworking their job titles into something understandable. If you look at their site you'll find jobs such as Painter, Cook, Gift Shop Sales Clerk, Security Officer, Pediatric RN, Physical Therapist and Mental Health Worker. Unfortunately, most healthcare web sites have somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 job titles and many of those jobs are either written in shorthand such as Fin Spec II which is a Financial Specialist II, or in confusing terms such as Clinical Staff Assistant which it turns out is really a Patient Registration Clerk.

I am seeing more and more large healthcare systems taking a good look at their career website and these confusing job titles and job postings are coming under scrutiny. Job titles are being reduced by at least 50% and career sites are being designed for the applicant and not members on the inside. And the good news is, once they are rewritten, more applications that are actually qualified for the positions are being received.

It is important for us to remember how the potential candidate may feel when searching for a job because if things aren't clear, people apply for anything or give up the search. That is especially true for the members of Generation Y, the largest group in today's workforce. These are the employees you want to apply because they are exceptionally well-suited to healthcare careers and they tend to be well qualified. For the time being, I'm thinking about applying for an At Your Service Associate position. I'm not sure what they actually do, but it sounds just a little naughty.

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