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Healthcare Recruitment is Changing Fast

February 28

2011 rolled into healthcare recruiting a lot like the storms that have been rolling across the country: fast, unexpected and rapidly changing. We have been in a pretty good place for the past two years so many recruitment functions have grown a little complacent. Here are just a few of the things I‘ve witnessed so far this year:

  • Open job reports have been getting larger as many systems are seeing a higher number of resignations. The economy is improving and people feel better about taking a chance on moving professionally. It didn't surprise me when I read that 38% of healthcare workers interviewed by a large US research firm reported they were currently looking for a new position. Couple that with the fact almost 40% of professional healthcare employees who change positions do so the last week in January through the first week of March.
  • Now that we are coming up on the first anniversary of the passage of Healthcare Reform, we are beginning to actually feel the effects. We are looking at hiring individuals who will be able to take paper medical records and turn them into the required Electronic Medical Records (EMR). It's relatively easy to find the data input workers, but the professional with the vision to take the organization into compliance will be a very difficult hire.
  • Healthcare Reform is also changing the face of long-term and home care. Since reform provides better funding for this type of care, for-profit organizations are moving into what was traditionally ruled by not-for-profit organizations. Many acute care delivery systems are selling their small long-term and home health offerings to these for-profit organizations. Because there is money to be made by offering this type of care, there is a great deal of jockeying for the beds, and the mergers and acquisitions have been more active than ever before. For-profit organizations are simply more aggressive when it comes to recruitment, so many are utilizing the most up-to-date methods of attracting candidates, hiring the best recruiters and offering different benefits.
  • Acute healthcare providers are buying independent physician practices at a rapid rate. Again, Healthcare Reform is driving the movement because under the new law, physicians are reimbursed in different ways. The younger, and often female, physicians want to be hospital employees. Hospitals also need to control the reimbursements all along the line including lab and diagnostic procedures. Bundle the charges and you make more money. Become an employee and you have less on-call and more support, including those dreaded required EMRs. If you are responsible for physician recruitment, there will be a lot more need. And with that comes all the support professionals such as physician assistants, nurse practioners and clerical staff.
  • Long-term and home health providers, who for years did not require drug screens or the ability to read and write English, are recruiting CNAs heavily. These are almost always small independently owned facilities, but with Healthcare Reform, if a facility is receiving Medicare or Medicaid money, they must show that their staff has passed both requirements. Where better to recruit than a large system, which has required both for years?
  • As the already paper-thin margins in healthcare delivery become even more so with Healthcare Reform, Human Resources is being asked to provide a great deal more documentation for Return On Investment (ROI). Salary, wage and benefits account for 63% of every dollar that goes through the system and that number must be controlled. If you can't speak the language of senior management—numbers—you might want to start learning. To hire people faster, systems are rapidly moving to restructuring the hiring process, abandoning the traditional ways of driving candidates and incentivizing recruiters and training them to act more like headhunters.
  • Social media is now the big buzz word but so far traditional methods are still producing the hires. Few systems have the time and talent to really work the social sites. But with more than 500 million individuals on Facebook alone, it won't be too long till we won't have an option but to find the time and talent to harness the power of social media.
  • Last year, Generation Y eclipsed the Baby Boomers as the largest work group and this year they have become more than 50% of the work force. This is driving different ways of recruiting, different benefits and the development of new ways to retain. Hiring managers need to be trained in how to work with the Generation Y employee, along with everyone involved in the recruitment process. Baby Boomers are finally leaving the work force either by planned retirement or being physically unable to keep up with healthcare delivery. That is going to create huge hiring needs.
  • Let's not forget the unemployment figures. We are now down to 9% but we remain fully employed in healthcare with a 3.0% unemployment rate. Everyone who is qualified and wants a job can have one. College educated individuals have a 4.1% unemployment rate. Healthcare continues to create jobs—the only sector to always do that during the Great Recession. Jobs are being created not in the traditional setting of hospitals, but rather long-term care, ambulatory care and home health.

The competition is already fast and furious and only going to increase as more and more parts of Healthcare Reform are realized, the Gen Ys take over, and the economy becomes better. Don't get too used to going to the bathroom.

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