Mid-2014 Healthcare Recruitment Outlook
By: John Rossheim
With health system transformation proceeding at full speed, healthcare recruiting is undergoing rapid changes as well. Let's take a look at the healthcare hiring outlook midway through 2014.
Rising demand, from bedside to executive suite
“We’re seeing a greater and greater need across the board, from nursing leadership to pharmacist to a variety of therapy specialties," says Eric Dickerson, managing director at search firm Kaye/Bassman International in Dallas. "There’s a gap in the quality of leadership as current leaders begin to retire. The next generation is smaller, so health systems are struggling to fill those roles."
Still, "with a merger of major health systems, there will be redundancies in the leadership, for example on the executive team and with multiple heads of specialty practices," says Dickerson.
"But typically, all clinical practitioners are kept on through mergers, because their numbers correlate with quality, and quality indicators directly impact reimbursement."
A growing need for healthcare IT executives
Metrics mandated by the Affordable Care Act and advances in medical informatics are driving hiring in healthcare IT.
"We’re at a convergence point between technology and care delivery, where technology can make or break the viability of a hospital," says Pamela Dixon, managing partner of healthcare IT executive search firm SSI-Search in Atlanta. "CMIO or CIO of a medical center — these are very difficult roles to source," says Dixon.
Hospitals and health systems are investing in IT executives who will lead change to simultaneously improve care quality and reimbursements. "New roles are just beginning to surface, like chief population health officer and chief of analytics," says Dixon.
Also on the IT horizon: Health and Human Services' latest deadline for implementation of ICD-10, the next-generation medical coding standard: Oct. 1, 2015 — and a growing need for data analysts.
High demand for primary care doctors
"With healthcare reform, as we move from fee-for-service to preventative care, there's a huge need for primary care physicians," says Andrew Blum, director of clinician recruitment at Reliant Medical Group, a multi-specialty organization of more than 250 physicians in Worcester, Mass.
"The demand for primary care physicians is much higher than what’s available right now. You don’t get a stack of CVs for a physician opening, you get maybe three or four."
Recruiters need to understand that today's new doctors – about half of them women – expect to be able to spend time with their white coats off. "Because work-life balance is important to young physicians, an efficiently run practice is important, along with the assurance that when they're not in the office, they can take their mind off work," says Blum.
Most physician candidates are pleased to be offered compensation that aligns with quality as well as quantity of care provided. Reliant offers its physicians a base salary plus a bonus based on quality, patient satisfaction, panel size and years of experience, Blum says.
Extending care with physician extenders
With more doctors employed by large groups, more nurse practitioners and physician assistants are being recruited to allocate human capital more efficiently and economically. "You're not going to be competitive in pediatric surgery or urology or family practice if you don’t bring in physician extenders," says Dickerson.
"Extenders' time is less expensive, and the practice will earn greater patient satisfaction because they can give each patient more time."
An ongoing need for nurses
Registered nurses (RNs) who in some markets were in nursing oversupply during the 2007-2009 recession – are largely back to their perennial power position in the labor market. "We’re seeing a pretty big tightening in RNs," says Dickerson.
Physical therapists attend Baby Boomers
The aging baby boomer generation will likely keep physical therapists in high demand for a long, long time. "Although there may be an overabundance of physical therapists [link to roadmap] in some large metro areas, in rural communities there's a severe shortage," says Dickerson.
Behavioral and mental health professionals
With more favorable reimbursement rates under the Affordable Care Act, "the demand for behavioral and mental health specialists is rapidly increasing," says Blum.
Allied health professionals
Workers in allied health professions will be hired by the millions in the coming years, both to replace retirees and to accommodate rapid growth in demand for their services.
Between 2012 and 2022, providers will create more than 320,000 new jobs for certified nursing assistants, according to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, positions for dental assistants are projected to grow by 25 percent over the same 10-year period, much faster than the average occupation. More than 27,000 jobs for phlebotomists will be added; employment of home health aides will spike 48 percent.
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