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  • Michael Jones
  • January 09, 2019 07:18:33 PM
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A Little About Us

Healthcare Career Resources is a blog for those who work in the healthcare industry. We cover topics ranging from current events to medical humor as well as more career focused topics such as job search and interview tips. We also publish articles written for healthcare human resources and physician recruiters.

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    Recruiting a Diverse Workforce in Healthcare

    The prevailing wisdom is that a diverse workforce in the healthcare industry can lead to better patient outcomes. A workforce that better represents patients may be more adept in practicing cultural competency, awareness, and sensitivity. Institutions that work toward diversity in their recruitment and acquisition can see many positive results for their efforts; as their workforce expands to better meet the needs of their consumers, their environment and brand may also reap benefits. Moving...

    How and Why to Recruit a Diverse Workforce in Healthcare
    Andriy Popov/123RF.com

    The prevailing wisdom is that a diverse workforce in the healthcare industry can lead to better patient outcomes. A workforce that better represents patients may be more adept in practicing cultural competency, awareness, and sensitivity. Institutions that work toward diversity in their recruitment and acquisition can see many positive results for their efforts; as their workforce expands to better meet the needs of their consumers, their environment and brand may also reap benefits. Moving toward a more diverse facility is something almost every healthcare provider should prioritize.

    Where We Are Today

    The 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics reported overall stats on hospital workers: with about 76% female representation, 74% were white, while African-Americans only comprised about 15% of the total. With Asians around 8% and Hispanic/Latino workers around 10%, the argument could be made that higher representation should be the goal for most institutions.

    Among physicians, about 72% overall are white, 40% women, 8% African-American; 18% Asian and 7% Latino. For nursing,  psychiatric, and home health aides, approximately 65% overall are white; 87% female, 25% African-American, 5% Asian and 18% Latino. Still another study reveals there has been a decrease in the number of African American males applying to and entering medical school from 1978 to 2014.

    Developing a Diversity Protocol

    How can healthcare providers increase diversity in their workforce? It may start with baseline information. Examining current data to see where you are in relation to the industry overall, for example, may be a starting point. You may be able to acquire data on enrollment and graduation rates from the universities that you work with to see if your representation is in line. If not, you can begin to target efforts on increasing hires in those areas.

    Once you’ve determined a target demographic, tailor recruitment efforts that speak to that community. Cultivating relationships with historically black colleges and universities may be a stepping off point. In nursing, for example, many HBCUs have dedicated programs. For physicians, Howard, Morehouse, and other others have prestigious medical programs. Cultivating relationships with these educators could be a first step in promoting a more diverse workforce in your facility. While the completion may be fierce for these grads, there are other ways you can expand your workforce.

    Targeted Advertising

    Where you post vacancies can have an impact on who is responding. Expanding your advertising to a wider range of candidates can be helpful. If you’re in a rural area and having difficulty hiring, it might be time to consider offers of relocation expenses. Broadening your reach beyond the local to regional and national advertising on job boards targeted at the careers you look to fill can provide a wider, more diverse applicant pool.

    Crafting Ads that Attract

    Make sure your postings outline your commitment to a diverse workforce. In fact, it’s acceptable to indicate you’re looking to enhance diversity. Use language that attracts, rather than deters, applicants from applying. Looking for more women? Avoid language that skews male: words like aggressive, or high-pressure tend to dissuade female candidates. Looking for more men? Shift your language from nurturing and compassionate (not that men can’t be) to more generic terms. Requesting bilingual skills can help increase representation, as well.

    Promoting a Diverse Workforce

    A link to your career page should include images of a diverse workforce to keep all categories of applicants interested in applying.  Candidates who don’t see anyone who looks like them on any page of your website will get the message: they may not be welcome. Make sure your Internet presence not only promotes diversity and inclusion, but reflects it as well.  Imaging, messaging, and even testimonials from a representative range emphasize your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

    Converting Resumes to Hires

    Efforts to recruit a more diverse candidate pool will fail if recruiters and hiring authorities aren’t on board. As you actively seek resumes of candidates that can help increase representation, it’s important to be mindful that those efforts are bearing fruit. If not, is it possible some candidates are being over-screened? Work with hiring authorities to assure consistency across all categories of job seekers when it comes to screening.

    For some facilities, blind applications are a viable solution. Using screening software to remove names and other racial or gender indicators can help increase your chances of creating a more diverse workplace.

    As the market for top talent continues to shrink, healthcare providers may be feeling the crunch when it comes to hiring. Increasing diversity in your workforce may seem like an extra challenge in this market, but a diverse and inclusive workforce is well worth the effort.


    How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Choose My Medical Specialty

    Choosing the right medical career is, like any other form of employment, filled with philosophically wondrous but functionally useless platitudes. The adage “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” decorates countless commencement speeches and career day addresses. Maybe that works for some jobs. In medicine, that strikes me as a bit...

    How I Chose Family Medicine
    HONGQI ZHANG/123RF.com

    Choosing the right medical career is, like any other form of employment, filled with philosophically wondrous but functionally useless platitudes. The adage “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” decorates countless commencement speeches and career day addresses. Maybe that works for some jobs. In medicine, that strikes me as a bit backwards.

    When I started medical school, I had a good idea that I wanted to focus on treating poor people and provide longitudinal healthcare for families, so I held an early belief that Family Medicine was the perfect career path for me. When pressed by my advisors as to what aspects of Family Medicine appealed to me the most, however, I couldn’t cough up any specifics.  What topics within primary care fascinated me? Diabetes? Not particularly. Pediatric developmental milestones? Eh.

    The advisors voices grew louder in my head. If I didn’t find any of the topics in Family Medicine devastatingly compelling, would I really consider the daily practice of Family Medicine any different? What topics in medicine actually did interest me? I loved learning about chemotherapeutic pharmacology like the cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin. Maybe three years of Internal Medicine and a Hem/Onc fellowship was the right path for me? Identifying the pneumatosis intestinalis bubbles on a film and correlating it clinically to necrotizing enterocolitis seemed like a lot of fun – maybe Radiology was my calling? There were so many intellectually fascinating avenues to explore, and none of them trailed towards Family Practice.

    By the time third year of medical school and clinical rotations rolled around, I anxiously awaited my new possible careers. I couldn’t wait to see where my intellectual interests in Hem/Onc and Rads might lead me. The answer: lots of counseling patients on which nausea medications would work the best, or lots of gentle, murmured dictations in dark rooms, illuminated solely by the glow of vertically oriented computer screens. This wasn’t the entirety of the Heme/Onc or Radiology experience, of course. But as a medical student with little power or responsibility, at this particular point in history, this really described what the days of my attending and resident teachers looked like.

    I had already written off Family Medicine as a career possibility before my third year rotation even began. So when I actually rotated through Family Med at a small privately owned clinic in New Hampshire, I was troubled at how much I enjoyed it. The daily schedule could be unpredictable, chaotic, and infinitely interesting. And all of it involved talking.

    I love talking. If I’m being generous, I’m an enthusiastic conversationalist; more realistically, I’m an over-talker who dangerously straddles the line of pedantry. This asset/flaw served me incredibly well during those six weeks in New Hampshire. Family Medicine, and primary care writ large, is all about talking and conversations. Communicating with people about their issues, medical or otherwise. Educating patients by meeting them at their particular level of understanding. The Family Medicine day involved running from room to room, completing DOT physicals or stabbing kids with DTP vaccinations, while engaging in all sorts of conversations. If I was lucky, I got to learn all about what it’s like to retire from being an airline pilot for United Airlines, or the latest argument a patient was having with her estranged father. These conversations became more captivating if I ever had the chance to continue them at follow up appointments two weeks later.

    My realization that I wanted to have a career made up of those Family Medicine days probably shouldn’t have been that revelatory, but it was. I circled back to Family Med for reasons that were counter-intuitive to me: it wasn’t that I was pursuing medical topics I loved, but that the majority of the days involved performing an activity I loved the most. This ought to be a consideration for anyone pondering a future medical career. If you belong in the OR, make sure the surgical specialty you pursue spends the most time in the operating theater and the least amount of time in the clinic, or it could make for a long few decades.

    Family Medicine wasn’t, and isn’t perfect, to be sure. The biggest problem with primary care as a whole has to be the pure weight of administrative burden – other fields don’t strain nearly as much under the paperwork. Even then, the positive aspects of Family Medicine outweigh the downsides, and the ratio works for me.

    My personal feeling goes something like this: most people who graduate medical school can intellectually handle most medical topics, and furthermore, can find something intellectually stimulating about any topic in medicine. Using intellectual interest as one’s initial barometer might not be the best first step. Think about what each field’s day-to-day looks like, see if you want yours to look the same, and trust that you’ll find plenty to engage you within that field.

    Find what type of day you really want, and you’ll find what field you love in medicine.


    6 Best Practices for Building Patient Loyalty

    Consumers today have high expectations when it comes to service. Companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google have thrived on providing consumers what they want, when they want it. As a result, we are living in an “on-demand” era that has increasingly infiltrated almost every industry, with healthcare being no exception. One may argue that medicine is hardly the same as ordering a video or a new set of bath towels online. However, the reality is that patients are consumers and they are...

    Satisfied patients and happy physicians
    kurhan/123RF.com

    Consumers today have high expectations when it comes to service. Companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google have thrived on providing consumers what they want, when they want it. As a result, we are living in an “on-demand” era that has increasingly infiltrated almost every industry, with healthcare being no exception. One may argue that medicine is hardly the same as ordering a video or a new set of bath towels online. However, the reality is that patients are consumers and they are living in an “on-demand” world.  To gain their business and win their loyalty, healthcare organizations and practices must recognize this shift and implement strategies to improve access, convenience, and personalization.

    The following are six best practices for building and maintaining patient loyalty:

    1) First Impression’s Matter

    The expression “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds true in healthcare. It only takes 7 seconds for a first impression to be made and typically it will not be made with the provider, but rather the office staff. This is why it is critical that on the phone or when the patient first arrives, the office and staff should be warm, welcoming, and friendly.

    2) Convenience is Key

    Convenience is paramount in healthcare today. According to a survey by Deloitte, it is one of the top priorities expressed by consumers with regards to their providers (2). Another review from Accenture found that 61% of patients would change providers just to get an appointment more quickly, and over half would switch to get an appointment at a more convenient location (1). The bottom line is that today’s patients want access when, where, and how it suits them, and it increasingly dictates their behaviors regarding healthcare. Consider ways to allow patients to schedule appointments, pay bills, request prescription refills, and access records online. If possible, consider offering same or next day appointments or extended hours to make care more convenient and accessible.

    3) Personalization

    Personalized care is not only a top priority with seniors but also with millennials (2). Patients are seeking a partnership with their providers. They also want their provider to spend sufficient time with them, and not rush through exams. Personalized care does not necessarily require extra cost or more time. It is often just the simple human touch of making the patients feel like they’re valued, respected, and cared for.

    4) Transparency

    Consumers are seeking greater transparency in their health care costs. Nearly 3 in 5 surveyed reported wanting providers to supply cost information (2). As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients are seeking more clear pricing and transparency.

    5) Keep Wait Times Minimal

    Average wait times for doctor’s appointments are 20 minutes but can be increasingly longer depending on the type of physician (5). In addition, it takes an average of 24 days to schedule a first-time appointment with a physician, according to The 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates (4). The bottom line is that patients don’t want to wait. One in five patients have switched providers when a wait time has become too long (3). The failure to recognize or implement strategies to improve long wait times could severely reduce a practice’s ability to attract, retain, and satisfy their patient base.

    Many practices have found the use of secure messaging helpful in communicating with patients. Office staff can send patients email, text, or phone reminders regarding appointments. Consider using a patient portal so patients can complete paperwork, access updates, and submit insurance information from home, so they are ready when the physician is. It is also necessary to have a policy in place for no-shows and late arrivals. Regardless of how efficient a practice is, wait times will happen, so ensure your waiting room is comfortable with plenty of up-to-date reading materials. Providing free wifi or TV entertainment can also go a long way.

    6) Follow up

    One of the most important, yet often forgotten practices, is following up with the patients after they have left the building. Building patient trust and loyalty involves ongoing communication. It also helps improve the quality of care, increases patient satisfaction, and keeps patients coming back. There are many tools that can help practices stay in contact with their patients, through email, text, or social media.

    Today’s healthcare providers have such an enormous amount on their plates, it remains a constant battle to find enough time. Those practices that are able to implement strategies focused on greater personalization, access, convenience, and quality care will ultimately win the consumer’s business. Finding the right balance can be challenging, but the real reward comes with building a strong physician-patient relationship and gaining their trust and loyalty.


    References:

    1. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-patient-engagement-consumer-loyalty
    2. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/life-sciences-health-care/us-lshc-cx-survey-pov-provider-paper.pdf
    3. https://www.vitals.com/about/wait-time
    4. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/patient-wait-times-in-america-9-things-to-know.html
    5. https://www.aafp.org/journals/fpm/blogs/gettingpaid/entry/mgma_survey_wait_times.html


    Top 9 Tips to Pick the Best Answers for USMLE Questions

    The USMLE Step 1 has multiple questions, each requiring a unique strategy to arrive at the best answer. Here are 9 tips to help you finish your USMLE test on time, if not early, and get maximum answers right.

    The USMLE Step 1 has multiple questions, each requiring a unique strategy to arrive at the best answer. Here are 9 tips to help you finish your USMLE test on time, if not early, and get maximum answers right.

    How to Ace the USMLE
    Kostyantine Pankin/123RF.com

    Perfect Your USMLE Step 1 Prep with Practice Tests

    The importance of practice tests simply cannot be overstated. They are the best way to ace your Step 1. Ideally, you should start your USMLE Step 1 prep with review books during your M1 and M2. These review books have Step 1 style questions so you can familiarize yourself with the questions and use the resources for daily practice during your study time.

    Always Read the Last Line First

    Most USMLE Step 1 questions are complicated and lengthy and you cannot always rely on the information provided to you in the stem. For instance, you may get a long patient case which ends with the question, “Which is the most common cause of hypertension?” for which you don’t really need all the information of the patient’s case.

    Don’t Scan Your Answer Options Immediately

    Once you’ve read the question, try not to look for the answer options and come up with an answer in your head. Then look for the option in the answer choices. This approach will keep you from getting confused or distracted and help you find the best answer. For instance, you may have thought of Vitamin C, but the answer choices may have ascorbic acid.

    Utilize the Marking Tool

    If you are spending more than a few minutes on every answer, then find the most appropriate option in your answer choices first or mark the answer for later when you have time left towards the end of the USMLE test.

    Your USMLE questions are not in the order of difficulty, so you can always surf for easier answers first and then get back to the more difficult ones.

    Track Your Time

    Have a method for watching your timer. Give a couple of minutes for a block during which you can answer a certain number of questions. This will help you stay on track, even when you’re answering long stems and complicated questions.

    Take a Top to Bottom Approach

    It is preferable to read questions from top to bottom because it’s often found that USMLE questions typically move towards a specific answer and the facts work to reinforce important parts in a manner that cannot be done effectively when you go line by line.

    So the facts make previous tidbits relevant, and the stem tends to provide momentum to what actually matters while keeping distractions at bay. However, if the whole stem looks long and    complex, just give the final line a glance because it can prove to be a big time saver.

    Skip the Hard Data

    Lab details and vitals are provided with physio questions, but if the patient comes with fever, tenderness, and RLQ pain, and nausea, you can safely conclude that he is suffering from appendicitis. In this case, all the lab results and overwhelming vitals are just unnecessary or irrelevant.

    Don’t Hold on to Tough Questions

    A key time management tip for USMLE Step 1 is trying not to agonize between two reasonable answer choices. You can think of any information that will help you differentiate between the options, and if you are still unsure, then simply go with your gut and move on the next USMLE question.

    Any epiphany is not worth holding on to because it may trigger anxiety or lead to under-performance, so maintain that air of nonchalance.

    Avoid Changing Answers

    A rule of thumb is not changing the answers unless you are absolutely sure. Test psychology states that your gut feeling is more likely to be correct and any further contemplation is only going to waste your time. So when you make your final choice, even if you’re guessing, don’t go back and change it later.


    Physicians, Don’t Let These Excuses Stop Your Salary Negotiations 

    Yes! No! Definitely! Definitely not! Maybe. Yes, it’s a definite maybe! Early, late, half-time, never?  You first. NEVER you first. When? How? Where? You changed your mind. Paper, email, text, a singing telegram? Get in their face; be demure. NEVER use these words; ALWAYS use these words. Is the market up or down? Wear blue. Wear black. Wear scrubs. Such are the agonies, uncertainties, and the perseveration of negotiating a salary. You shouldn’t have to suffer so much – you did enough...

    Physicians, Don't Doubt Your Worth & Negotiate with Confidence
    Jacek Dudzinski/123RF.com

    Yes! No! Definitely! Definitely not! Maybe. Yes, it’s a definite maybe! Early, late, half-time, never?  You first. NEVER you first. When? How? Where? You changed your mind. Paper, email, text, a singing telegram? Get in their face; be demure. NEVER use these words; ALWAYS use these words. Is the market up or down? Wear blue. Wear black. Wear scrubs.

    Such are the agonies, uncertainties, and the perseveration of negotiating a salary. You shouldn’t have to suffer so much – you did enough of that during your training. I’m providing some excuses you can use to avoid the discomfort of salary negotiation. Try them on before your interview. You’ll find something. If you don’t find a good fit, don’t worry. The universe never runs out of excuses.

     

    Excuse #1:  It could cause a tense start

    No one wants to make adversaries before the first day on the job. Unfortunately, this excuse is easy to debunk. Negotiating a salary is one of the tasks of hiring. Employers do it all the time. They expect it. If you don’t negotiate, you may seem awfully naïve – too naïve. So, you’re uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you’re doing the wrong thing, Remember your first driving lesson? Your first date? Those were uncomfortable, but here you are to tell the tales.

    Excuse #2:  They might retract the offer

    They reviewed your application; you both have invested time and money in interviews, and possibly expenses for travel. They aren’t going to throw that effort away just because you make a (reasonable) counter-offer. The worst-case scenario is that they’ll say, “Our offer is firm.”

    Excuse #3:  I don’t know what I’m worth

    This is true for too many people, sabotaging their own value. Ignorance lessens worth. There are many Internet sites which supply salary information in almost any field. Physicians and other providers should look to salary surveys produced by organizations such as Medscape or if you can get your hands on it, the annual MGMA physician compensation survey.

    Excuse #4:  They’ve already offered their top salary limit

    If you can make yourself believe this, I’d like to sell you the London Bridge. It’s in Arizona now. 

    Excuse #5:  I don’t want to seem greedy

    What if your counter offer triggers resentment and the company doesn’t want someone who refuses to accept a good offer?  Even if the company told you that their first offer was their best offer, they’ve almost always left some room for negotiation if your counter offer is reasonable.

    Excuse #6:  I’ll get started, and then ask for a raise

    No tension there. You won’t look greedy before you sign on, and you don’t even have to know your worth. Most companies, however, have firm rules about a time frame for considering a change in salary – usually there will be no changes considered for 6 months to a year. Future raises are often based on a percentage of the salary. You could adversely affect your income for the duration that you’re with the company. A 5.0 percent raise based on an annual salary of $50K is a lot higher than a raise based on $45K.

    Excuse #7:  Negotiating is difficult and complicated, and I’ll just make a fool of myself

    If this is your thinking, you’re probably right.

    Excuse #8:  I’m happy with the offer

    The offer they made was much higher than you expected, but then you find a co-worker with the same qualifications and experience as you, also a new hire, is making 10 percent more than you are making. Just try not to ruminate on that from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. You may get to spend your evening kicking yourself for not knowing the market value for your skills. So – please negotiate. Give what you perceive as surplus to a charity, foundation, or me.

     

    With the exception of #7, I’ve failed to supply you with pseudo-excuses with which you can deceive yourself. The best things you can do, regarding salary negotiation, are:

    1. Prepare
    2. Prepare
    3. Prepare

    Negotiating is both you and the employer investing in each other. You’re working at meeting both parties’ needs. Everyone is more productive in an atmosphere of good will. It builds your sense of security – they invested in you. Most of the time, it will get you a higher salary and more.

    Virtually all companies expect negotiation, and will respect you more than if you fail to negotiate. The employees in greatest demand are those who are critical thinkers, productivity-minded, and business-literate.


    Employee Engagement Through Training and Education Opportunities

    Many organizations face challenges when creating training programs that meet the needs of employees, especially staff who work nights and weekends. Smaller organizations find it difficult to train staff that work nights and weekends. Developing other forms of training access will reduce payroll costs and increase employee satisfaction and engagement by showing your consideration of their personal...

    How to Increase Employee Engagement Through Training and Educational Opportunities
    Jrg Schiemann/123RF.com

    Employee engagement is a phrase thrown around a lot these days. It benefits the organization by increasing retention, improved patient safety, increased morale, and increased profit to name a few. Engaged employees are said to be energized, productive, and satisfied. It is up to the employee and the employer to contribute to the success of the initiative. Employees need to be open and take ownership, and the organization must create programs to support the initiative.

    An employee engagement program implemented at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital showed excellent results. “When Misty Freeman, RN, MHA, CSN, NE-BC, was named the ED’s director of nursing in April 2013, she learned that employee engagement was in the 19th percentile and survey participation rates were only 54%. What’s more, those scores had remained flat the preceding five years, indicating that the staff was disengaged for some time. “In any organization, but especially in a busy ED like ours, it’s crucial to have strong employee engagement,” Freeman said. “That’s what drives behavior that supports high-quality care.” Not only that, employee engagement improved to 82% and participation improved 90% in 2015 (Press Ganey 2016).

    Employee engagement reduces turnover that is at least 5% of a healthcare organization’s overall budget. The highest turnover for all employees in the first year is a whopping 28.3% and 25.5% with up to 5 years employment according to the National Health Care Retention Report by Nursing Solutions 2018. Not only that, engaged employees are 47% more likely to have more empathy and concern for patients than those who are disengaged.

    Lastly, career development opportunities were among the top ten drivers for nurse engagement according to Nursing World (January 2016), which is the focus of the rest of the article.

     

    Training and Education

    A successful development program should include:

    • continuous development opportunities that will increase the individual and team competencies;
    • relevancy, conciseness, and contributes to the culture and mission of the organization;
    • clear career ladders; and
    • communication regarding the training, interaction, and feedback

    Many organizations face challenges when creating training programs that meet the needs of employees, especially staff who work nights and weekends. Smaller organizations find it difficult to train staff that work nights and weekends. Developing other forms of training access will reduce payroll costs and increase employee satisfaction and engagement by showing your consideration of their personal time.

    That said, the following options could be made available to all staff.

    In Person: Assign a staff development specialist to work the weekend/night shift so staff can attend training during their work hours. It is preferable by staff, but sometimes that is not possible for night and weekend staff. Typically employees who work weekdays receive this option.

    Video Training: Take advantage of new opportunities available by filming your weekday training sessions (including any Q&A) and produce a podcast. The cost is minimal and provides flexibility. In the podcast, include an introduction explaining why the training is needed, such as unit specific training on new equipment or procedures or if it’s organization-wide training, explain how it furthers the mission or helps reach organizational goals. Create an atmosphere where they feel included. Your staff will appreciate it.

    Further, include an assessment at the end of CBT to track results. Doing so allows your staff to complete the training at home or work. It benefits both the organization by reducing payroll cost and the employee by allowing flexibility.

    Professional Training: Not all healthcare organizations can create professional training outside the workplace. However, if it is within your budget, establishing a relationship with a nearby 2-year college and developing specific courses will benefit employees and the organization. With this option, it is best to set up a tuition reimbursement program. Not only does this promote skill development toward advancement, but it would also benefit the organization by establishing a pipeline for those targeted for leadership roles in the succession plan as baby boomers retire.

    How do you target employees for leadership roles? One surefire method is to implement the 9-box system. This system enables you to select certain employees using specific criteria to determine who has the capability for leadership roles. The ability for staff to participate in this development program will encourage staff to stay with you — especially those whose career goals include leadership healthcare roles. Follow this link for a free e-book with more information about the 9-box system.

    Training and education is an excellent option for increasing employee engagement and reducing turnover as shown above. If your organization needs transformation, consider this as part of your initiative.


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