As demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most consistent challenges during any public health crisis is the shortage of healthcare workers. When healthcare facilities reached maximum capacity due to COVID-19, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers experienced an urgent need for additional help and backup staff, so healthcare staffing had to get creative to meet this demand.
A public health crisis can also redefine which healthcare positions are considered the most crucial, leaving every hospital potentially short-handed. Adding to the challenge of recruiting medical staff during a crisis is the concern that the exposure of frontline healthcare workers could place further strains on an already strained system.
During such challenging times, recruiters and staffing professionals are left to pick up the slack. Learning how some of them stepped up during past crises can shed light on how you can adapt to fill urgently needed healthcare positions.
1. Fast Track the Healthcare Staffing Process
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Roman Healthcare Group got a pronounced spike in calls for infection preventionists for 13-26 week assignments, according to Greg Musto, the company’s CEO. Systems that normally take one to two weeks to approve contracts for interim candidates got approval in mere hours, he says.
Long-time client hospitals put their trust in The Roman Healthcare Group’s vetting process, permitting them to extend offers. Musto says in one week alone they filled four positions in infection prevention—which was typical during that hectic period early in the pandemic.
2. Use Remote Screening Tools
Video conferencing and interviewing was immediately and broadly adopted at the start of the pandemic, according to Bob Bailey, Managing Director of Healthcare IT Leaders, PAC Leaders, and Locum Choice.
He stresses the importance of hiring managers ensuring that their recruiters have the tools and knowledge to effectively video screen candidates, while also helping candidates get up to speed so they’re better able to shine on video calls.
Musto agrees, reporting that many more video interviews were used as a final interview during the pandemic as opposed to candidates going on-site.
3. Seek Help From Struggling Industries When Recruiting Medical Staff
Rather than trying to find new sources of talent, savvy staffing firms reached out to credentialed professionals who were temporarily out of work.
Dan Peterman, Director of Clinical Staffing at Becker, a talent solutions firm specializing in healthcare staffing, says his team reached out to school nurses (with whom they had a prior relationship) who were laid off and got them oriented as quickly as possible to help supplement hospital and long-term care needs.
The team at SavaSeniorCare Administrative Services, which recruits leadership, healthcare talent, and support services for their client center skilled nursing homes, recruited newly laid off service, hospitality, and restaurant industry workers. They recognized employment needs at skilled nursing centers that align with hotels, such as housekeeping and dietary staff, Lesley Mastalerz, SavaSeniorCare’s VP of Talent Acquisition, says.
SavaSeniorCare also thought ahead and began offering training for new staff, providing opportunities for those interested in a career change by training them to become certified nursing assistants. They either pay them while they’re learning on-site or offer non-paid online classes to learn at their own pace, Mastalerz adds. Once they finish and become certified, they get an automatic promotion.
4. Healthcare Staffing Done Safely
Renee Becker, Pharm.D., President, and CEO of Becker, explains the collaborative spirit of putting people to work, contributing to the community, and helping the company. Employees themselves are eager to do their part to help others, too, which she says is indicative of the majority of nursing and healthcare professionals.
But, before anyone was sent out to report to a job, they had to complete a COVID-19 screening tool that Becker created. Candidates were asked questions such as whether they had been out of the country, been sick, had a fever, or if anyone in their house was sick.
For SavaSeniorCare, which recruits healthcare talent for their client center nursing homes, it was perhaps even more crucial that hiring of new staff be done in the safest manner possible. Besides prohibiting non-essential personnel from entering the centers, it also meant on-site interviewing came to a grinding halt, shifting to video-conference interviewing instead. Also, the workers reporting each day were screened at the front door.
5. Stay True to Your Values
Musto, of The Roman Healthcare Group, compares it to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. As he did in the aftermath of that tragedy, he encouraged his healthcare staffing teams to be patient, persistent, and pleasant during the COVID-19 crisis. Candidates, whether they are active or passive, appreciate recruiters who are candid, honest, and follow up, he adds.
The SavaSeniorCare team also focused on giving residents a way to communicate with their families through technology, since they were unable to have visitors. Mastalerz says it’s a testament to their prioritization of their residents’ care, something job candidates should see as a benefit.
Avoid a Healthcare Staffing Crisis with Help from Monster
Healthcare staffing is critical, not just for businesses, but for the country as a whole given some of the challenges we’ve faced with public health emergencies. There is much to learn from past crises, but when you have an ongoing need for candidates, you deserve an ongoing source that can deliver. That’s what we at Monster do best. Get started with us today by posting your next job for free.