Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare establishments are understandably struggling in the face of the current coronavirus pandemic. In the United States alone, the death toll as of this writing is nearly 70,000 – and counting with health experts saying that the daily death toll can rise by 3,000 in June!

But it isn’t just the human toll that the healthcare industry is struggling about! Many have expressed their struggles in the recruitment and retention of skilled staff, usually when employees are furloughed for quarantine purposes. At the Berkshire Medical Center in New England, for example, more than 160 staff were placed in quarantine after their possible exposure to Covid-19 patients. While a temp agency supplied over 50 specialist nurses, it isn’t sufficient to replace the workers in quarantine. 

This isn’t in just one part of the country either. Both the federal and state governments as well as the private sector are facing possible staffing shortages as medical professionals become infected. Sadly, many medical professionals have also died as a result of the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind Covid-19.

As such, the public and private sectors are applying innovative strategies in filling up their staff roll. Your healthcare practice may also be in the same boat and, thus, you can use these recruiting strategies. You may also want to work with a medical consulting company that specializes in human resources recruitment and retention. 

Speed Up the Hiring Process

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals have always been in high demand in the United States.  But with the current pandemic, their demand has increased for obvious reasons. This is especially true for infection specialists, respiratory therapists and critical care nurses, among other healthcare specialists. 

There’s also a difference in the speed with which healthcare professionals are being hired. Where the hiring process can take two to three weeks from start to finish, it can take a few hours! The sense of urgency is, indeed, palpable and understandable. 

Many hospitals are also sidestepping their own lengthy vetting process in favor of the agencies’ vetting process. Again, this is intended to fast-track the hiring process, not only because lives are at stake but the entire hospital’s services can be compromised. With fewer number of skilled professionals on board, there’s the risk of turning patients away, among other effects. 

This isn’t to say that the hiring process can be sloppy. The applicants must still undergo the vetting process but at a significantly faster speed considering the unusual times. 

Use Remote Screening Tools

Of course, remote screening tools have been in use for several years. But with the possible risks of face-to-face interactions, these tools are being used more and more by healthcare facilities in their recruitment process. There’s also the fact that many applicants come from diverse places and, thus, the use of remote screening tools make it easier for them to comply with requirements. 

These tools include online assessment tests and video conferencing, as well as emails and chats. These are also reliable in terms of keeping a documentation trail for future reference.

Stay True to Your Core Values

Even with the rapid changes happening in the healthcare industry and its related industries, the most successful companies have stayed true to their core values. Of course, they also adopted changes in accordance with the times but their eyes were set on their mission and vision, their heart and soul, if you will. 

You should also consider such a flexible approach. Even as you find ways to thrive amidst the human resources challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, you stay true to what and who you are as a healthcare practice.

For example, if you value your patients above all else, then tell your applicants about it and ask them what they think about it. You can determine whether an applicant is a good fit in your practice from his answers. 

You can also provide examples of the ways your clinic implements your core values, say, compassion for patients and their families. Examples include allowing patients in isolation to communicate with their family and friends via video-chatting technology. 

Seek Assistance from Struggling Industries

Instead of putting adverts for new talents, you can try tapping into old ones! It makes sense, too, considering that experienced professionals don’t have to undergo extensive training. You can then reach out to out-of-work or furloughed medical professionals who are more than willing to be a part of your healthcare practice. 

For example, many school nurses are likely on furlough due to the schools closing nationwide.  You can send out a recruitment advert for them, offer them a competitive compensation package, and reel them in.

Keep in mind that school nurses already have the education, training and certification in nursing. They can be quickly trained for more specialized tasks in a hospital or clinic. 

You may also want to consider offering training for non-nursing professionals to transition toward a nursing degree. You will spend more, of course, but you will have a competent nurse on your payroll who will likely stay for several years.  You can even give them automatic promotions upon their completion of a degree program. 

These recruitment strategies are just the tip of the iceberg. You should look into the recruitment and retention strategies that have worked well for you in the past and consider implementing them alongside these strategies.  You will find that a mix of the old and the new works better than just an all-new or all-old approach.

In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic when nearly everything we know about “normal” is being put to the test, we have to adopt to the changing times faster than we ever did before. We have to think of ways to thrive under the “new normal” and it includes rethinking and redesigning our existing human resource plans.  

In doing so, we may yet realize that in the end, our greatest resource will always be our people, from the receptionists and utility men to the medical professionals who form the backbone of the healthcare industry. 

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