It’s not just physicians and nurses, non-clinical staff are in short supply for medical practices too

More than 60 percent of respondents say their organizations have a hard time recruiting non-clinical staff, MGMA says.

Nursing and physician shortages aren’t the only staff challenges providers are facing. According to a new STAT poll from the Medical Group Management Association, a majority of healthcare organization leaders said their group can’t find enough qualified applicants for non-clinical positions either.

The poll was conducted on May 1, 2018 with 1,299 applicable responses.

More than 60 percent of respondents said their organizations had a hard time recruiting non-clinical staff. The reasons include larger organizations offering better pay, low unemployment rates and difficulty recruiting in rural areas. One respondent said “recruiting millennials is a completely different game” and another cited lack of future career advancements in the billing and coding field.

“Lack of medical training in colleges and technical schools and reliance on ‘on the job training’ means less qualified non-clinical applicants,” MGMA said.

Other reasons include competition from other medical groups, hospitals and health systems as well as competitive pay from other industries that trigger turnover.

One-third responded they haven’t experienced this shortage, citing low turnover. Those respondents also said they had increased wages to retain staff, MGMA said.

A past poll has shown this high-turnover is prevalent in front-office staff, which some experts have argued are the face of a practice and the first ones to interact with patients, often setting a tone for the care episode making it a crucial influence of patient satisfaction.

When there is high turnover, new employees are often not as well-versed in office policies and procedures because they likely haven’t been there very long. This can lead to mistakes, inaccuracies and bumpy interactions with patients who expect staff to know operations inside and out. It can also lead to costly errors not just on the part of new employees, but veteran staff who are busy training and juggling multiple tasks at any given moment. The trickle down effect could mean patients wait longer to be seen, appointments go longer and collections and claims may be riddled with mistakes.

Medical group leaders know that it isn’t just doctors and nurses who make their practices successful and run smoothly, so they would be well-advised to treat retention of non-clinical staff with urgency.

Since a third of respondents reported lower turnover after raising wages for non-clinical staff, decision-makers for practices may want to consider researching current competitive rates for these positions and potentially raising wages such that staff would be less inclined to seek higher-paying employment elsewhere.

Practices also might consider how else to boost employee benefits and the workplace environment so that employees experience greater satisfaction. Turnover leads to operational hiccups, less efficient service for patients and lower satisfaction rates.

“While finding qualified candidates is a challenge for medical groups, practice leaders can begin by assessing how they are approaching retention of their best employees and mitigating turnover before it becomes an issue,” MGMA said.


Analysis: Nurse force to grow 36% by 2030, thanks to millennials

Dive Brief:

  • Millennials are becoming registered nurses at nearly twice the rate of baby boomers, but that still won’t necessarily prevent a nursing shortage as boomers retire, a new analysis in Health Affairs concludes.
  • The number of younger RNs nearly doubled to 834,000 in 2015, after dropping to 440,000 in 2000 when Generation Xers were joining the workforce.
  • The number of millennials entering the space has leveled off recently, however, suggesting only modest growth over the next decade. Still, millennials will dominate the nurse workforce in the 2020s, the article says.

Dive Insight:

The average age of the nursing workforce in 2005 was 44, spurring widespread predictions of a nursing shortage as baby boomers retired from the field, according to the authors.

They attribute millennials’ embrace of nursing to several factors. The profession offers stable lifetime earnings and low unemployment as well as opportunities for advancement and relocation. And it can be parlayed in myriad ways across the healthcare industry.

“Considering the acceleration in retirement of the baby boomers and the stabilization of the entering cohort sizes among millennials, we expect the nurse workforce to grow 36%, to just over four million RNs, between 2015 and 2030, a rate of 1.3% annual per capita growth,” the authors write. “This is a rate of per capita growth similar to that observed from 1979 to 2000, but half the rate observed in the rapid-growth years of 2000-15.”

Whether that growth rate is enough to meet demand as baby boomer nurses retire is hard to gauge.

While nursing may be enjoying a surge in popularity, as professions go, retention is a growing problem. In a recent Medscape poll, about one in five nurses said they would not make the same career choice again. Nurses with more than 21 years in the profession were more likely to be dissatisfied than those who were new to the practice.

To retain nurses, hospitals need to provide opportunities for upward mobility and changing roles. They also need to address clinician burnout associated with increasing regulatory and administrative tasks. Allowing nurses to practice at the top of their licenses can also increase workplace satisfaction — not to mention helping address the problem of physician burnout.

CFO roundtable: 3 finance leaders on clinical staffing, retention issues

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The healthcare workforce represents one of hospitals’ biggest costs and affects every aspect of the organization, from the quality of patient care to the hospital’s bottom line. With such high stakes amid the transition to value-based care, leaders must ramp up recruiting and retention strategies while mitigating the effects of the nationwide staffing shortage.

At AMN Healthcare 2016 Workforce Summit in San Diego, Scott Becker, publisher of Becker’s Hospital Review, moderated a panel discussion with four health system finance executives on the top staffing challenges they are seeing in their organizations.

Panelists included Gary Raju, CFO of St. Louis-based Mercy Health System of Oklahoma; Chip Neuman, CFO of Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif.; and Brian Scott, CFO, chief administrative officer and treasurer of AMN Healthcare.

Here are three of the most interesting takeaways from the panel.