How To Recruit Healthcare Workers During a Pandemic

The Coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on our economy and has brought to closer scrutiny our healthcare resources. With so many supplies needed to treat the ill, two questions are echoed across mainstream media: do we have enough resources to treat patients and do we have enough labor to administer those resources? The answer to the latter question is the more troubling.

Prior to the latest pandemic, there was a shortage of talent in the healthcare space. How much more has that problem been exasperated? So, the question on my mind, and so many others, is this. How do we recruit during a pandemic? I’ll discuss what’s been done so far, what could be happening now and what should be happening once all this is over. Stay tuned.

Special thanks to our sponsor Proactive Talent!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast, brought to you (in part) by Proactive Talent, a recruiting and employer brand consulting firm that will revolutionize the way you attract and hire top talent.

The Coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on our economy and has brought to closer scrutiny our healthcare resources. With so many supplies needed to treat the ill, two questions are echoed across mainstream media: do we have enough resources to treat patients and do we have enough labor to administer those resources? The answer to the latter question is the more troubling. Prior to the latest pandemic, there was a shortage of talent in the healthcare space. How much more has that problem been exasperated? So, the question on my mind, and so many others, is this.  How do we recruit during a pandemic? I’ll discuss what’s been done so far, what could be happening now and what should be happening once all this is over? Stay tuned.

To combat the Coronavirus pandemic, many health experts have been asked to come out of retirement. For example, in New York, more than 50,000 healthcare workers—from physician retirees to practicing nurses—have answered Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pleas for medical volunteers to help support the staffing shortages in hospitals.

Specifically, at least 2,265 physicians—including anesthesiologists, ER technicians, ICU physicians, infectious disease specialists, and pulmonologists—have signed up to volunteer in New York’s Surge Healthcare Force. Additionally, a growing number of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse anesthetists, respiratory therapists, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses—over 24,000 in total—have stepped up to the plate. And beyond them, retired army medical personnel have been the focus of recruitment efforts as well. This according to the website – MDLinx

Now, when I hear stories like this I am encouraged. But there are other stories around these valiant workers that raise some concern too. Check out these quotes from The Guardian which reports on retired healthcare staff being reluctant to pitch in.

But a majority of 120 former NHS employees who responded to a Guardian callout were resistant, and in some cases hostile, to the idea. Many respondents said unprompted they did not want to a return to a working environment where they suffered stress, bullying, burnout and even breakdowns.

Seventy-one said they would not be happy to return to work, with many expressing their reluctance in vehement terms. “After the way I was treated I would rather shove a rusty six-inch nail up my backside than return to my old job,” said a 67-year-old former staff nurse from Manchester.

Anthony O’Neill, 58, from Glasgow, said: “No, nein, non, nej! Was a hospital physician for 32 years: never ever going back.” And a 60-year-old London GP said: “I left general practice due to burnout. I would not go back under any circumstances.”

Many expressed concern that returning to work would put them at risk of contracting the disease and that their lack of recent practice could put patients at risk.

A 69-year-old former GP from North Yorkshire said he would fear for his life. “It would place me in a position where I would receive a high lethal dose of the virus.” Another former clinician, with a long-term chronic condition, said it would be “suicide” for her to return to frontline duties.

But most of those who said they would be willing to go back had reservations. Asked if they were willing to return to work, 33 of those who responded provided “yes, but” answers. They included one who would say she would return to work but not at the hospital that offered her “no support following my breakdown”.

I’ve read in multiple articles how retired medical professionals were at risk due to their age and lack of recent medical knowledge. However, I had not heard much in terms of people willing to return to work but not at the hospital where they practiced before. I think that should be a BIG wake-up call to organizations with poor employee experience.

On March 13, 2020, the Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an emergency declaration allowing all physicians and other health care providers with any valid state medical license to provide care to Medicare and Medicaid patients across state lines. Something I think makes a lot of sense and something to advocate for after the pandemic subsides. I mean, having a license that lets you practice in the USA nationwide? Why don’t we have that already? For that matter, should we have a global licensure as well? (I’m shrugging my shoulders.)

And if we did have a global licensure, I imagine that the telemedicine industry would generate a half  trillion dollars in a year, more or less. And I say that because of something encouraging I read on the HospitalRecruiting.com. Here are some quotes from that website.

In this age of social distancing, telemedicine has come out on top. While not a novel concept, virtual connectivity in healthcare has lagged behind other sectors as physicians struggled to implement services amidst concerns regarding reimbursement, privacy issues, and integration into the medical workflow. The emergency decision by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on March 17, 2020 (..) to pay for telehealth visits outside of rural areas has eased physician concern. The decision allows physicians and other health care providers to charge the same rates for real time- audiovisual and in-person office appointments for new and established patients…  Established patients also have access to virtual check-ins (…) and e-visits (…)…

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) has been temporarily waived during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing physicians and others to use any videoconferencing tool, including Facetime, Zoom* and Google Hangouts. However, these platforms typically do not utilize a business associate agreement (BAA) – which ensures protected health information is safeguarded – and their use will become illegal once the emergency declaration runs out.

But, I digress, other recruitment measures being considered are graduating senior medical students early and temporarily cancelling the regulation that foreign doctors have to repeat residency in order to practice in the United States. Relaxing the rules, at least for now, may be the cure that ails us when it comes to recruiting healthcare workers. Time will tell. However, eventually, a new normal will set in and the same recruitment issues will return without the advantage of relaxed rules. What then? If this is your concern, stay tuned for some truly creative case studies on how to recruit nurses.

Recruiting nurses won’t be any easier post-Coronavirus than it was pre-Coronavirus so, hospitals will have to be creative in order to attract talent. Something that certainly seems attractive is the 3-Day work week where you take 12-hour shifts, 3-days a week with 4 days off. That certainly sounds good.

At Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center, employees can tap free concierge services for help with dinner reservations, car repairs, mailing packages, catering and event planning, picking up and dropping off dry cleaning, and lawn and garden care.

There’s also the example of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California, which offers onsite master’s- and bachelor’s-degree programs for nurses, tuition reimbursement, scholarships and flexible scheduling to support nurses who want to continue their education.

Buy my favorite example of creative nurse recruiting has to be what Riverside Community Hospital did back in 2004. They ran a campaign called, Dream Job, Dream House.

Riverside Community Hospital (RCH) is one of the largest full-service, acute care community hospitals in Riverside County California. After California passed Assembly Bill 394 (January 2004) which mandated nurse to patient ratios, the hospital made a decision to develop a recruitment package that would get noticed and lay the foundation for one of the largest financial investments a person can make – the purchase of a home. The new home down payment closing costs program for (full-time) registered nurses that sign on, was based on a philosophy that professionals in a public service profession will respond strongly to an employer who understands their personal goals and dreams. Their goal initially was to hire 100 nurses from March to October.

Instead of recruiting locally, which impacts and hurts the entire region, Riverside Community decided to focus on Southern California areas where home prices were much higher than in Western Riverside County. In Riverside, homes were (are) more affordable and you can get much more house for your money. They offered up to $12,000 toward closing and relocation costs as well as entering candidates in a drawing for $25,000 towards a down payment. Print and billboard advertising were done to target both the LA and Orange County markets. In addition, RCH attended over forty job and career events both in the state and nationally. This included six Open House events.

Riverside Community Hospital surpassed their hiring goal of 100 RNs in eight months. They hired 230 nurses in ten months (campaign was extended). Nurses were recruited from eight other states as well as California. Twenty-one (21) of the candidates took advantage of the closing costs options. The grand prize drawing for the down payment of $25,000 was December 12th. This drew a very large crowd including the mayor and a local television network, NBC-Channel 4.

Once all this Corona Crazy is over, the healthcare industry will have to take a long and hard look at how they recruit personnel and ask, which temporary measures made during the pandemic should now be permanent? What should we be doing today to safeguard our employer brand so that anyone who worked in the past, will be more than happy to return for the next emergency? And when it comes down to recruiting nurses specifically, how bold should we be with our recruitment initiatives? Is helping someone buy a house too over the top or the new standard to attract top talent? No matter what is decided today, the repercussions will echo from now on; at the very least, until the next pandemic.

MUSIC IN THIS PODCAST

► Music Credit: LAKEY INSPIRED Track Name: “Better Days” Music By: LAKEY INSPIRED @ https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired

Original upload HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXLzv… Official “LAKEY INSPIRED” YouTube Channel HERE – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOmy… License for commercial use: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported “Share Alike” (CC BY-SA 3.0) License. Full License HERE – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…

Music promoted by NCM https://goo.gl/fh3rEJ

► Music Credit: LAKEY INSPIRED Track Name: “Days Like These” Music By: LAKEY INSPIRED @ https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired

Original upload HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTGEo… Official “LAKEY INSPIRED” YouTube Channel HERE – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOmy… License for commercial use: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported “Share Alike” (CC BY-SA 3.0) License. Full License HERE – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…

Music promoted by NCM https://goo.gl/fh3rEJ

► Music Credit: Dj Quads Track Name: “www is a thing” Music By: Dj Quads @ https://soundcloud.com/aka-dj-quads

Original upload HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cqqU…
• DJ QUads YouTube channel HERE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCusF…
• Dj Quads on SoundCloud HERE: https://soundcloud.com/aka-dj-quads

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