Engaging and Retaining the Health Workforce

A note of encouragement to those concerned about the health workforce. With health care reform and the aging population, the future has never been brighter. As the backbone of the health care system, the health workforce is receiving well-deserved focus. Title V. of the Health Care Reform reinforces this fact. Here is an excerpt from the White House’s own website:

By funding scholarships and loan repayment programs, the number of primary care physicians, nurses, physician assistants, mental health providers, and dentists will increase in the areas of the country that need them most. With a comprehensive approach focusing on retention and enhanced educational opportunities, the Act combats the critical nursing shortage. And through new incentives and recruitment, the Act increases the supply of public health professionals so that the United States is prepared for health emergencies.

The Act provides state and local governments flexibility and resources to develop health workforce recruitment strategies. And it helps to expand critical and timely access to care by funding the expansion, construction, and operation of community health centers throughout the United States.

This act not only supports the nation’s health workforce, it expands it. These provisions should dispel doubt about the strength of the health workforce and provide hope for the future. As the excerpt confirms, retention continues to be a primary focus throughout the recruiting process. These strategies are moving away from individual facility orientations towards developing centralized system orientations to provide a lasting impression upon new hires. The hope is new employees will feel valued and have a sense of belonging. Equally important is promoting inclusion and team building following orientation as this is the period that could prove most overwhelming for new hires. This strategy will establish trust and reduce the challenges of frequent turnover faced by so many health care employers.

The other area receiving attention is creating educational opportunities. Benefit packages attracting and retaining employees include tuition reimbursement. New hires usually need to be on the job for six months to become eligible. The commitment to return to school establishes employees with potential, and retention is a natural result. Another tool promoting educational opportunities is convenient online educational programs.

With a comprehensive approach focusing on retention and enhanced educational opportunities, the health care workforce will continue to be strong for years to come.