Four Ways to Engage your Top Healthcare Workers

By: Tyler Black

Many healthcare systems embrace a team-based healthcare delivery—and for good reason. In this model, a team of physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) work together to ensure patients receive the best care possible.

While beneficial, this collaborative approach has created hiring challenges when members of the healthcare team leave the practice. It’s a problem that I frequently hear about from healthcare providers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for physician assistants and nurse practitioners will increase more than 30 percent during the next eight years. Because these practitioners are in such high demand, it’s easier for them to shop around for other jobs if they’re not satisfied with their current employer.

With increased demand for NPs and PAs comes the need to be more competitive when hiring and more mindful about how to retain talent.

If you are seeing high employee turnover with your PAs and NPs, it may be that their needs are not being met. And salary is often not the issue. For most clinicians money is a satisfier—not a motivator.

Here are a few things you can do to retain and engage these healthcare employees—which are often not about the money.

The opportunity to learn and grow professionally. It is critical that a positive learning environment be fostered for those who seek additional skills or experience. This can be challenging in the busy world of direct patient care but it will pay long-term dividends. PAs and NPs are looking for jobs that will provide them with new experiences, education and training. They often accept a job for the opportunity of learning a new specialty, regardless of the compensation.

Work/life balance is key. Whether they are balancing child care, school schedules or simply want more time away from work, many employees want workplace flexibility. Adding some leeway to an employee’s daily, weekly or monthly schedule is often seen as a big win and can be even more important than compensation.

Working relationships and mentorship are important for professional growth. Do your employees have mentors? Is there someone they can go to for career advice? If not, you may want to look into a formal mentoring program. Asking seasoned employees to guide those younger in their careers can help engage both the mentor and mentee.

In addition, consider offering a budget for continuing medical education and time off to take those courses. This will help engage employees and lets them know you want them to stay up on the latest practices and procedures. The added focus on professional growth will also help attract new employees to your facility.

Expanded scope of practice improves engagement. Another way that PAs and NPs can grow in their careers is by giving them more autonomy. The more clinical experience they have, the more independently they can work.

There should be a consistent growth pattern for nursing practitioner job responsibilities in relation to their collaborations with physicians and PAs. This leads to better team-based medicine, as each practitioner can fulfill their roles in concert with each other. Expanding the scope of practice in the clinical setting should occur as more trust is developed.

In time, both the PA and NP should be practicing at the top of his or her license. This not only helps these providers be more engaged, it also prevents physician burnout.

Focusing on these four steps should help stymie exiting PAs and NPs from your facility. It will also help you recruit a smarter, more engaged workforce, enabling you to achieve your business goals.

Tyler Black, VP of allied staffing at CompHealth

Tyler Black is the vice president of allied staffing at CompHealth, which places PAs, NPs, and CRNAs in permanent and temporary positions around the country. For more tips on hiring and retention,