From delivering flu shots to managing the front desk, when a pediatric practice needs new staff, they usually need the extra hands yesterday. A blessing and a curse of the healthcare industry is that the market is full of smart, dedicated professionals -- so how do you ensure they’re showing up to share their talents at your practice? In such a competitive job market you need to stand out to be noticed, but don’t worry. Here’s how to attract the talent you deserve with the resources you’ve already got.
Questions to Ask Before You Recruit
Building a cohesive staff is a crucial part of practice management. After all, while “top talent” in the healthcare industry could mean someone with fabulous credentials, awards, and nominations, the top talent you really want for your practice is more likely someone whose values, career plans, and mission are the same as yours.
Before the recruitment process gets underway, it’s important to have clear goals and reasons to guide you through. Here are some questions to think about before you post your ad to job sites, newspapers, and your social media.
Do you need to hire a new employee? If so, can you wait for the right person?
Some circumstances have more clear-cut answers to this question than others. If you’re starting a new practice, opening a new location, or looking to expand your services, the need for new hires is almost always obvious.
If your practice is responding to employee turnover or needs to get more hands on deck quickly, it might serve you better long term to hire carefully rather than quickly, even if it takes more time than you’re initially comfortable with. In a webinar co-hosted with The Verden Group’s Susanne Madden, PCC’s Pediatric Solutions Director Chip Hart says that hiring for culture allows your practice to cultivate the best possible relationship with your new employee, because a thoughtful recruitment and interview process lets you know that you’re building a staff that has the values you aspire to. Of course, if you need help right away, a part-time or temporary position might fit your needs best.
2. Can you train or promote from within?
You don’t have to have double-digit numbers of employees to hire from inside your practice, and there are pros and cons to this strategy. According to the Harvard Business Review, a mistake many companies make in hiring is competing fiercely for new and expensive talent rather than training from within.
While there is nothing wrong with expanding your staff to expand your practice’s range of skills and experience, it’s also true that adding an entirely new employee significantly increases your payroll costs. Here’s an example: even on a trial or temporary basis, if you can train a part-time nurse to pick up free hours on the phones, everyone wins.
3. Who is your practice looking for?
There’s more to this question than meets the eye. Susanne recommends that practices start recruitment and interviews with a good grasp on who the practice is, what their goals are long term, and what role they are looking for.
“Start with giving an overview of what your practice looks like,” Susanne says, and then ask similar questions to determine the candidate’s values, long term plans, and career goals. After all, burnout is a leading cause in healthcare employee turnover. While this information can’t eliminate employee turnover completely, it can help managers avoid burnout by learning from day one the candidate’s expectations for happy, gainful employment at your practice.
“What is it that you're trying to build? What are you trying to create? Ask the candidate how their experience and their personality and their education fits with what it is that you're trying to do. That's going to drive your culture. It's going to drive your mission, and it's going to drive your vision.” -- Susanne Madden
Knowing your practice’s vision and goals will help you decide on the right fit for each position. If your practice values caring for babies, for example, or you plan to expand services to include urgent care, you’ll want to hire nurses that also enjoy caring for babies and front desk staff that know how to respond calmly during stressful phone calls, respectively.
Top Tools to Attract Top Talent
New talent in your practice means new opportunities to expand your office culture, skills, and get creative in solving the everyday tasks you need to provide excellent patient care and customer service. Here’s how to effectively use your resources to attract the best candidates.
First, if you’re opening a new practice or location, Chip and Susanne recommend first hiring a practice manager that shares your goals, then using their assistance to hire for the roles you need. With the right person, this could cut your recruitment, interview, and hiring process in half.
Practices can hire independently with the resources available from their current team, or they can seek assistance from consultancy services such as The Verden Group, PCC, or the Pediatric Management Institute.
Next, Chip recommends that practices avoid hiring “narrowly” to help with both efficiency and employee retention. Staff that can fill multiple roles, especially across administrative and clinical tasks, offer more value to your practice, and it’s great for growing the right employees’ skill sets and hours, which can encourage them to stick around. Susanne agrees, and adds that sometimes hiring an MA and training them for front and back office tasks is useful for small or startup practices.
Finally, a great way to know if a candidate is top talent for your practice is to hire someone that is qualified for and enjoys doing a job you as an administrator can’t do or don’t enjoy. Hiring someone who can order inventory, answer phone calls, or bill like a pro is a more efficient use of time and money. Forbes recommends employers offer candidates a test or complete a focused question and answer session in the interview to help determine if your top candidate is qualified in real life as well as on paper. PCC practices can even set up a testing EHR environment and ask candidates to demonstrate checking in a patient, ordering a lab, or solving a problem in a patient chart.
The right talent for your practice might be the top-credentialed, all-star, well-seasoned candidate who can help you meet your practice’s goals, or a biller in nursing school brimming with plans to help your practice grow. Once you determine what you’re really looking for, the top talent will become clearer to you. Whether you’re starting a practice from the ground up or you’re well-established, there’s never a bad time to improve your hiring process. Learn the best strategies for building a strong team and strong business foundations in this webinar hosted by Tim Rushford: Hiring the Right People.