5 hiring tactics helping health systems beat the staffing crisis

Hospitals and health systems are getting creative with hiring tactics as staffing shortages continue to plague the industry — because when finances are tight, $30,000 bonuses are not in the budget for everyone. 

Here are five unique ways health systems are beating the staffing crisis: 

1.  The "gig" approach: Chesterfield, Mo.-based Mercy is using a model typically associated with ride-share and food-delivery services to staff nurses. The health system launched an app and online platform to let full-time and part-time nurses, as well as other experienced nurses in the area, pick up gig shifts. It has been "wildly successful," Betty Jo Rocchio, DNP, RN, CRNA, senior vice president and chief nursing officer across the Mercy system, told Becker's; fill rate improved by 2 percent, total cost to deliver care decreased by 12 percent, cost of resource decreased 10 percent, and agency spend was halved since the initiative's start. 

2. The "boomerang" strategy: Little Rock-based University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Los Angeles-based Keck Medicine are hiring back workers who left during the pandemic. UAMS sends postcards to past employees informing them of what is going on at the health system, and explaining why it is an exciting time to rejoin. Keck Medicine solicits feedback during exit interviews, then implements it to incentivize former workers to return. As of November, UAMS had hired back 30 nurses who left during the pandemic and Keck Medicine had restored 224. 

3. The high school hires: Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System lowered its minimum hiring age to 16 last fall, giving teens early exposure to the healthcare industry in roles from patient transportation to nutrition services. More recently, the health system implemented a "student support associate" role that lets young workers aid the care team by bathing patients, taking vitals and restocking equipment. Cincinnati-based TriHealth has taken a similar approach — the health system partnered with the city's public high schools to pique students' interest in healthcare careers while gaining extra hands, ABC affiliate WCPO reported Nov. 4. Participating teens get high school credit and a paycheck. 

4. The billboard buyouts: The South Carolina Hospital Association is advertising vacant jobs on the state's highway billboards. Each billboard sports the familiar "H" logo that directs people to hospitals, this time directing them to online hospital job postings in their area. The hospital association is also buying billboards at college football games to gain more attention, with the goal of filling the state's 9,000 open roles. 

5. The app store: Enola, Pa.-based Pam Health is taking to the Apple and Google Play stores to reach Gen-Z talent. The health system joined AtlasJobs, an app that uses AI technology and a map-centric search feature to connect users with jobs in their area. AtlasJobs helps the health system "discover new talent and nurture candidate relationships like never before," Kristen Smith, its chief transformation officer, said in a news release.

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