How 1 system is helping moms reenter the healthcare workforce

The idea for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's MomForce Program came about while Linda Matzigkeit was mixing cement. 

Ms. Matzigkeit, chief administrative officer of Children's, told Becker's she was mixing cement during a 2012 mission trip to Nicaragua, and a fellow volunteer was lamenting that she'd been out of the workforce and was finding it challenging to return.

"I said, 'Well, isn't there such a program? I would think that exists,'" said Ms. Matzigkeit. "And she said, 'No.' And I said, 'Let's figure it out.' So we kind of constructed it over mixing cement."

In January 2013, Children's began designing the program, which addresses the healthcare talent shortage by helping parents rejoin the workforce after they've stepped away from the labor market to raise their families. 

The system, which has about 11,000 employees, eventually launched MomForce in September 2013. Now, a decade later, Children's continues to grow the number of participants in the program. And the topic of women in the workforce became especially timely during the pandemic amid challenges related to securing caregiving services. As of June 2022, women's jobs made up 75.4 percent of the 524,000 net jobs lost in the pandemic, according to the National Women's Law Center, which cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How the program works

MomForce occurs in 12-week sessions in the spring and the fall. Participants receive assignments and work part time for 20 hours per week in nonclinical areas. Participants must have been away from the workforce at least three consecutive years; have a bachelor's degree in a related study field; and at least five years related professional work experience.

"What we really are trying to do is, first and foremost, give them the skills and the confidence that they need to return to the workforce," Ms. Matzigkeit said. 

Once participants complete their 12-week session, they have three possible paths: pursuing a permanent role at Children's; pursuing a role at another organization; or deciding to not pursue a permanent role in the workforce. Overall, Children's has hired about 70 percent of the MomForce participants from the last three program cohorts.

"What we came to realize about a year ago was that this is a great pipeline for us. And we need to actually step it up," Ms. Matzigkeit said. "So each cohort we've added, we're adding more and more."

The most recent cohort, from fall 2022, had 13 participants, the highest number thus far in a cohort. Children's aims to build that number up to 20 to 30 participants. 

Ms. Matzigkeit said those who do participate attend a kickoff lunch and receive various tools.

"We offer them a lot of training, technical skill training, presentation training. They are able to attend any of the training that we offer here at Children's. I think that's unique," she said.

Participants, who are paid entry level rates, also are encouraged to do informational interviews with health system leaders and receive tours of Children's clinical areas. Additionally, they attend team-building events and must give a presentation toward the end of their 12-week session about their experience in MomForce.

Ms. Matzigkeit offered the following advice to peers at other hospitals and health systems: "If you're looking for an efficient way to hire people, and you get to try them out for 12 weeks, and then you decide whether you're going to hire somebody, it's a great way to effectively use your recruiting dollars."

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