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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What do nurses really want from their employer, and how can institutions provide for them? In most industries, turnover is costly and drains productivity. In healthcare, turnover can impact patient outcomes and a facility’s reputation. In today’s tight market, retention is a top priority, followed only slightly behind by attracting top talent to your institution. Attracting the best talent in the industry and keeping them engaged and retained is a top priority for every healthcare...
What do nurses really want from their employer, and how can institutions provide for them? In most industries, turnover is costly and drains productivity. In healthcare, turnover can impact patient outcomes and a facility’s reputation. In today’s tight market, retention is a top priority, followed only slightly behind by attracting top talent to your institution. Attracting the best talent in the industry and keeping them engaged and retained is a top priority for every healthcare institution.
To understand the secret wants of nurses, Bay Alarm Medical surveyed over 100 caregivers, about half who have been in the industry for 11 years or longer. Their study, Nurse Confessions, revealed some fascinating data about the working nurse: what they want in their jobs, what’s challenging them to stay in their chosen profession, and how many are actively looking to move on.
Corie Colliton, project manager for Bay Alarm Medical, provides some insight into the data and her thoughts on why nurse retention and recruitment was a unique category in the marketplace.
“In almost every industry,” Colliton writes, “job satisfaction is directly linked to retention and turnover rates. However, nurses and doctors typically have more moving pieces at play in order to overcome a toxic work environment. It’s a high-pressure and high-stress industry to work in. It’s crucial for employees in this field to put aside personal and professional problems most of the time, because the needs of the patient always come first. That being said, it’s important to have the proper training and have the ability to swallow their pride more often than not to focus on saving lives.”
What’s challenging nurses on the job? The survey revealed some shocking statistics:
These revelations are eye-opening. Uncovering whether your nursing staff is experiencing these issues, and addressing them, could go a long way to improve nurse satisfaction on the job and reduce attrition.
Nurses were asked if they regretted their career choice. Of those, about 1 in 3 admitted they had at least some regrets. Even those who did not say they were unsure they made the right career choice experienced challenges on the job:
The survey revealed the largest group of nurses who regretted their career choice were in the field for 5 years or less, at 39.1%. This critical period may be an area where healthcare facilities can work with talent to get them past this difficult time. Once nurses hit the 6 to 10 year mark, according to the data, that number is more than cut in half at 19.6%.
“The nursing shortage is a problem that’s widespread, making it important to pinpoint specific trends in terms of turnover and retention rates. These numbers,” Colliton writes, “are usually directly related to the emotional and physical strain of the job.” They’re also pushing nurses to move to greener pastures:
Armed with the knowledge that more than a quarter of nurses report they’re on the lookout for a new job, facilities that are hoping to retain must do a better job to meet the needs of these critical staff members. Acknowledging and addressing some of their concerns could go a long way to reduce attrition and increase employee satisfaction. For too many facilities, however, lack of information is the barrier. Many employees will only report what caused them to leave the institution during their exit interview – too late for corrections to be made that may have retained that valuable worker.
For institutions looking to recruit, addressing some of the concerns of nurses could be a significant factor in attracting top talent. The issues that challenge a nurse in one facility could see a solution in another. Knowing what makes nurses tick, what inspires them and what frustrates could lead to better recruitment efforts as well as better retention outcomes. The first step is knowledge.
You have the knowledge and training to provide the best care to your patients, but do you know how to maintain and grow your medical practice? While medicine is a calling, healthcare is very much a business. Here are a several essential strategies you’ll need to grow your medical practice and keep it off life...
Congratulations! You’re at the light at the end of the tunnel. After spending most of your young adult life in a hospital and making it through the maze of standardized tests, you’ve amassed enough medical knowledge to fill up several Wikipedia pages. You’ve landed a private practice position that excites you, and you are ready to make the transition from trainee to attending- or so you think.
You have the knowledge and training to provide the best care to your patients, but do you know how to maintain and grow your medical practice? While medicine is a calling, healthcare is very much a business.
Here are a several essential strategies you’ll need to grow your medical practice and keep it off life support.
Even if you are in a large, well-established medical group, you will still need to master the art of networking. Growing a medical practice, like any other business, relies on a steady stream of good referrals. Primary care physicians (especially if you are a specialist) and other doctors will become your source of referrals. Medicine is a social network, and it is vital that your name and face be embedded in your colleague’s memory when their patient asks for a GI referral or the best ophthalmologist in town.
Make sure to join your regional or citywide medical association and show up regularly to local, citywide or university held M&M meetings. Embrace social gatherings like holiday parties, wine socials and more. Not only are they packed with great food and good company, they serve as a casual opportunity to put an extra plug in for your practice. For example, I once used a holiday party to convince my colleagues that I truly deserved my preferred OR time slots!
Remember to reciprocate. Offer to give a lecture at city ground rounds or for your local PCP’s office meeting. As you educate your colleagues, you reinforce your specialty expertise or the niche market that you are passionate about building.
While you don’t need an MBA at the end of your already long list of credentials, savvy business skills will serve you well in your career. A streamlined business strategy is vital! Now is the time to make your templates for common patient scenarios (use the templates on your current EMR to serve as a guideline). Solidify your practice preferences; for example, I prefer a three-piece drape for cystoscopy while others prefer a single piece. While both are effective, streamlining your preferences now will allow for a more enjoyable workflow in the future.
If you notice something that works well in training, write it down, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel countless times. I remember my chief resident carrying a notebook and writing down things he liked in the OR and clinic in the last few months of training. It’s also an excellent idea to bluntly ask about the office staff and resources in your new position, so you are not caught off guard by an understaffed office or a shortage of supplies or equipment necessary for your productivity.
Remember your time is money and you’ll need a bit of it to pay off those school loans. Think strategically about your schedule and how you will stick to it. Do you have dedicated administrative time or downtime to respond to patient calls and online queries? You’ll need to make sure that you have time to fit all your activities into your schedule. Remember, in the real world, ACGME work hours do not carry weight, so you will be in charge of building your work-life balance!
While patient-centered care seems to have become a buzz phrase in the last few years, the concept has been conceptualized by modern medicine for much longer. In 1921, Dr. William Lower, the founder of the Cleveland Clinic wrote, “a patient is not dependent on us, we are dependent on them.” These words still hold incredible weight in today’s healthcare arena and for growing your medical practice. Always treat every patient like the most important person on your team.
I remember receiving several direct referrals in the first few months of practice from patients because as they put it, their prior doctor “just did not listen.” While these doctors were all highly skilled, patients prioritize feeling heard by their care providers. Patients talk, and you want it to be all good news.
Sit down when you enter the exam room, shake hands and always address patients- and their questions- respectfully. If issues extend beyond the scheduled time, develop a polite but firm phrase to redirect your patients to follow up at their next appointment or by emailing your office staff. Providing patient-centered care does not take inordinate amounts of time but allows your patients to know that you are sincere, optimizing the doctor-patient relationship that will keep you in business.
A vital key to growing your medical practice is press. While I won’t go as far as to say that “all press is good press,” you do have to be visible to your patients. Set up a recurring meeting to discuss marketing strategies with your office manager, so that you are on the same page as you grow you medical practice’s image. Utilize free and paid advertising, thinking of this as an investment in building your medical practice, rather than an expense.
Free advertising sources like your city’s “Best Doctors” lists or local health fairs or festivals are invaluable. Also consider putting out a press release for any new services your practice is offering in the town newspaper, or use Google or Facebook advertising to increase engagement with your local community online. Never miss an opportunity to ask your patient to leave referrals, especially on your website or physician rating sites. In today’s technological age, almost everyone has a website and social media presence, but remember to update and to engage. Provide incentives for new patient visits or start a “Get healthy for the New Year” or “30-day eye health challenge” for your Facebook or Instagram followers.
Transitioning from trainee to attending is a significant accomplishment. Enjoy the process, but make sure you take the time now to strategize how to make this next step as smooth as possible. Use these tips to grow your medical practice for years to come!
Taking the time to ensure that you have the right staff may be one of the most important elements for a practice. It requires significant time and effort; however, there are few things that can provide a higher return on your investment.
Physicians work extremely hard to obtain their education and build a solid reputation within their community. However, no matter how impressive a provider’s credentials, one negative experience with the office staff can change a patient’s perception.
Office staff are a reflection and extension of the provider. Simply put, they have the ability to make or break a patient’s experience, and sometimes even the success of a practice, which is why finding and retaining the right employees should be a top priority.
Taking the time to ensure that you have the right staff may be one of the most important elements for a practice. It requires significant time and effort; however, there are few things that can provide a higher return on your investment.
1) Think Outside of the Box with Your Candidate Search- Inform your staff and patients you are looking to hire, often the best candidates come via referrals. If your practice has a LinkedIn or Facebook page, post the position on social media. Other suggestions include your local chapter of MGMA, and local universities and community colleges with medical assistant or other allied health programs.
2) Keep an Open Mind When Interviewing- Remember there are many teachable skills. Skills such as scheduling, data entry, and reception duties can be taught if you have a candidate with strong customer service, excellent communication skills, and a positive attitude. Characteristics that are more difficult to teach include: attitude, willingness to learn, flexibility, and strong work ethic. Finding candidates with these qualities is often more imperative to a smooth-running office and a positive patient experience.
3) Go Deeper with Interview Questions– Whether in person or over the phone, go beyond the standard questions about a candidate’s resume and previous job experience. For example, ask them to provide an example of how they handled a challenging situation at their previous job, or how they collaborated with their co-workers to complete a project. Other open-ended questions to consider include:
If your practice is fortunate enough to have an excellent staff, congratulations! You have hit a home run. The next challenge is retaining them, which is a whole new ballgame.
According to an article in Forbes, when employees leave their company for another job, they can typically expect a 10-20% increase in pay; however, if they stay at their current employer, they can expect an average of 3%. So how can medical practices compete and retain top talent? Below are a few strategies for keeping great employees.
1.) Recognition– One of the most common reasons employees leave is because they feel underappreciated. Taking the time to simply thank an exceptional employee, or reward them by giving them an afternoon off, does not cost nearly as much as if they leave. Another best practice is to encourage patients and team members to leave comments about their visit or interactions. Set aside a special time during meetings for acknowledgment. Creating a culture where staff, management, and patients can recognize each other’s value can be priceless.
2.) Engagement- Employee engagement is one of the most important factors in retaining valuable talent. Create an environment of collaboration, mutual respect, and trust by leading discussions and asking staff their suggestions on process improvement. Employees who take initiative should be recognized and encouraged to increase their responsibilities. The key to an engaged workforce is recognizing each individual’s talents and helping them succeed in achieving their goals.
3.) Flexibility – Although it may be challenging for a small medical practice to offer a flexible work schedule, it can often be achieved through strategic scheduling. Allowing staff members to work through lunch to leave early one afternoon, or come in later one morning to accommodate their family schedule, shows you care about their well-being. Giving employees a little flexibility and understanding, can go a long way.
4.) Compensation/Benefits – Compensation and benefits are a useful tool for attracting and retaining top talent. They also play an essential role in employee satisfaction. Although not all employers can easily accommodate, it is an important factor in finding and retaining the best employees. Most often if you pay your best talent more than they are worth, they will rise to a higher level; pay them less, and they will give you just that.
When you’re considering a move, you need to know how earnings in one state compare to the national average... If you’re like most Americans, you want to move to a Sun Belt state with warm weather or a western state with spectacular beauty. Some fast-growing states are huge while others have fewer people than Chicago. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is what physicians earn in the fastest growing...
If you’re like most Americans, you want to move to a Sun Belt state with warm weather or a western state with spectacular beauty. Some fast-growing states are huge while others have fewer people than Chicago. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is what physicians earn in the fastest growing states.
Of the ten most populous states, Florida is the fastest growing. The U.S. Census reports that Florida had 20 million+ residents as of July 2017, and it is the fifth fastest growing state overall. Beautiful weather and the lack of a state income tax make it an attractive place to live.
Florida physician jobs generally have above average compensation. Family and general practitioners, obstetricians & gynecologists, and anesthesiologists earn more than the mean for their disciplines ($215,000, $249,730, and $271,610, respectively). Florida psychiatrists, however, have earnings below the mean ($202,430).
Texas now has a massive population of over 28 million. It was the 7th fastest growing state in 2017. There are many physician jobs in Texas because of its massive population growth.
The mean annual wage for Texas physicians in all four categories is lower than the national mean. They earn $204,660 as a family and general practitioners, $209,370 as psychiatrists, $209,580 as ob/gyns, and as $261,670 anesthesiologists.
Washington saw its population grow 10% from the beginning of the decade until 2017. That type of population growth means an increase in physician jobs.
Washington family medicine physicians, psychiatrists, and obstetricians and gynecologists all have higher incomes above the national mean. In fact, family physicians in Washington are the fifth best paid in the country. Only anesthesiologists have earnings lower than the mean.
Thanks to 9%+ population growth since 2010, Arizona now has over seven million residents. It was the sixth fastest growing state in 2017. If you want a warm climate, Arizona is a possible destination for you.
Psychiatrists and anesthesiologists earn more than the annual mean there. Family practice and obstetrics & gynecology jobs in Arizona pay less than the mean. In fact, Arizona OB/GYNs make 12% less than the mean annual wage for the United States.
Idaho earned the title of fastest growing state for 2017. Its population grew over 2% last year. Nevada and Utah rank as the second and third fastest growing states overall.
There are striking differences in the pay between physician jobs in Idaho. Family practice physicians and obstetricians and gynecologists in Idaho have earnings above the national mean while psychiatrists and anesthesiologists earn less than the mean. In fact, OB/GYNs make $46,470 per year more in Idaho while psychiatrists earn $78,810 less than the annual mean.
Both family practice doctors and psychiatrists in Nevada have a mean salary of less than $200K per year. At $268,920, the average for anesthesiologists in Nevada is slightly higher than the national mean. The Bureau of Labor Statistics had no earnings data for obstetricians and gynecologists in Nevada.
The mean annual income for family and general practitioners in Utah is very close to the national average. However, psychiatrists in Utah earn 32% less than the mean, and anesthesiologists make 11% less than the national mean. Only obstetricians and gynecologists see higher earnings in Utah.
Human Resource professionals in every industry are responsive to the needs of their institution; when there’s a vacancy, they spring into action, working diligently to fill the opening with the best talent in the shortest amount of time. Recruitment has been a reactive function for as long as there has been HR. But what if recruitment could be proactive – ready with talent on deck to feed needs even before they happen? That is proactive recruitment: anticipating need and having reserves...
Human Resource professionals in every industry are responsive to the needs of their institution; when there’s a vacancy, they spring into action, working diligently to fill the opening with the best talent in the shortest amount of time. Recruitment has been a reactive function for as long as there has been HR. But what if recruitment could be proactive – ready with talent on deck to feed needs even before they happen? That is proactive recruitment: anticipating need and having reserves ready.
Technology continues to ease the burden on HR professionals in a myriad of ways. Job boards refine candidate searches to niche and specialty markets, reducing the volume of excessive resumes received. Applicant tracking software screens candidates more quickly and efficiently than we ever could, putting top talent at the beginning of our qualified candidate pile. Chatbots and other technology are helping with phone interviews, scheduling, and more. As HR rids itself of these arduous, time-draining tasks, more time is available to be proactive. But how do you start?
The wealth of data all these technologies have afforded you are a gold mine of information. While few recruiters take the time to use them, they can be an invaluable resource. One easy way is to analyze trends. A few to look out for:
When are you searching for a particular type of hire? Is it cyclical to your facility or industry-wide? If it’s particular to your facility, you can plan to recruit for those openings before they come available – before the next cycle begins. If the cycle is industry-wide, can you get a jump on the competition by starting your search earlier in the process?
When are your searches most successful? Analyze which searches resulted in fast, successful hires and which did not. For those that were successful, delve deeper into the data. What sources netted the best applicant pool? Did time to hire affect success rates? Where did cooperation from hiring managers and department heads enhance success?
For searches that didn’t result in hires, even more data analysis is required. Why were sources ineffective? Were there time drains throughout the process that cost you candidates? How can you improve on those? Planning ahead could assure you don’t miss out on top talent the next time around.
You likely participate in a host of hiring opportunities for new graduates in every discipline your facility serves, but can you work more proactively to put your institution top of mind with potential grads? Connecting with them directly, or with their advisers, can put your facility in a position to offer conditional hiring contracts long before they don the cap and gown.
Are there employees poised for promotion whose loss will mean a vacancy? If staffers are closing in on a promotion, plan to start recruiting in the months before the change becomes effective. Is someone looking into a sabbatical, considering maternity leave or any other change in his or her work situation? Work with hiring managers; they have the information you need to plan ahead and assure full coverage, no matter what the circumstance. Have them contact you with any potential loss so you can be proactive in hiring before the need arises.
Substitute teachers have been the norm in the education system for decades. Knowing that coverage will be needed at some point, these employees are on hand when necessary. Most institutions can build their own network of standby workers, as well. Anticipating need could include an on-premises floating staff, ready to fill in wherever necessary. It could also include creating opportunities for substitutes from a host of sources.
Exit interviews can result in invaluable leads. Whenever a quality employee leaves, ask if he or she might be available for standby or part-time work. They may be looking to reduce hours to spend more time with family but would welcome an occasional boost to their finances with work that isn’t permanent.
Candidates who were second choice when a permanent position was filled may also be interested in standby openings, and you could offer them the next vacancy in their desired department when it becomes available.
With all the information available to HR professionals today, becoming proactive in hiring is simply a question of analyzing data and building on the relationships you already have. You could position your facility as never being short-staffed, with some careful planning and cultivating.
A story retrieved from the WebMD archives declares, “Doctors and Nurses are Fueled by Coffee.” In 2010, Harris Interactive, a market research agency, orchestrated a survey on coffee consumption. It included more than 3,600 coffee-drinking workers representing 12 professions.1 Nurses achieved the top honor (?). It didn’t take a survey to figure that out. Whether a rare cup - hot and fresh, or cold swill from last night, they drink what they’ve got to get the job done. Physicians ranked...
A story retrieved from the WebMD archives declares, “Doctors and Nurses are Fueled by Coffee.” In 2010, Harris Interactive, a market research agency, orchestrated a survey on coffee consumption. It included more than 3,600 coffee-drinking workers representing 12 professions.1 Nurses achieved the top honor(?). It didn’t take a survey to figure that out. Whether a rare cup – hot and fresh, or cold swill from last night, they drink what they’ve got to get the job done. [Sidebar: I was applying to nursing schools, but my father saved me from myself when he said nursing wasn’t for me. He was right. Being a nurse is way too much work!]
Physicians ranked second in coffee consumption from among the 12 professions. About 43 percent of coffee drinkers said they were less productive without coffee on the job. About a third said they require coffee to get through a workday.
Leonhart Rauwolff, a German physician, is credited with the first mention of coffee in Europe, in 1582. He had been on an excursion through Mesopotamia in search of herbal remedies. Rauwolff wrote, “A very good drink that is as black as ink and very good in illness, especially of the stomach.” Promotion of the “black medicine” raced throughout Europe.2
Another study was conducted at a hospital in Switzerland. Coffee purchasing habits of 766 physicians, grouped by specialty.2 David F. Hamilton, a research fellow, wrote, “Within this study, we also tried to settle the debate as to whether surgeons, radiologists, or physicians drink more coffee. We believe we have finally clarified this important question, unresolved for so many years.” (You just can’t make this stuff up.)
Hamilton continued, “It is in fact the orthopaedic surgeons who drink the most black medicine. This suggests either that their “work hard/play hard/drink hard” persona extends to hospital canteens, highlighting their productivity, or that they have too much time to kill and can be found hanging out in cafeterias.”
Hamilton goes on, “Radiologists are also frequently found in the cafeterias, perhaps to escape their dark working environment. Their demanding job that puts them in front of computer screens in dimmed light can be tiring after short periods. Regular caffeine boosts could revitalize the spirit and improve performance. The relatively low coffee consumption of our colleagues from anaesthetics warrants further attempts at explanation. Anaesthetists might be too busy to find their way to the coffee outlets, though a more likely explanation for their rare sociable appearances is that they have set up their own coffee machines in the theatre suites. Whether this belies a social issue cannot be answered with these data. General surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons also seek additional caffeine boosts in the theatre area, though this does not seem to impair their purchasing habits in the more sociable canteens in the same way.”2
We shouldn’t be too judgmental about the value of David’s research. He’s in good company:
Nurses and physicians who are job-seeking or negotiating a compensation package can leverage this data. Whatever the setting, your employer will want maximum productivity. Present to a potential employer or partner the fact that readily available coffee is imperative. Failure of its supply to you and your associates could interfere with productivity, possibly ruling out further negotiation. Be sure you determine if the coffee will be supplied on-premises or require pick-up. Alternatively, start with requesting a lifetime SB Gold Card, valid even if you leave the position. Be prepared to lessen your request, to a card that is effective only during your association with the organization. If you are an orthopedic surgeon, hold out for a personal barista.
It’s tempting, but I won’t leave you in suspense:
Hamilton emphasized that no patients were hurt in this study, but was there a trickle-down effect? I bet Hamilton could milk another study out of that burning issue.
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