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Talent shortages affect many industries, but the inability to find workers in the healthcare industry is more of a talent crisis than a shortage. Since December of 2010, ten thousand Baby Boomers a day turn 65 years old – and this will continue for the next 10 years! Most physicians are able to see 18 patients per day, and, if those physicians work 240 days per year and if their patients each visit twice per year, then those doctors will have 2,160 visits per year. (source) Nurses are overworked as well.

The Bureau of Labor & Statistics predicts that there will be more than one million nursing positions to be filled by 2024–that’s only 6 years away, and finding nurses to fill positions is a problem today. In fact, the nursing shortage is so bad that a new subindustry has emerged, the “visiting” or “travel” nurses. Many hospitals pay for travel nurses to come and fill open positions as these hospitals struggle to recruit and retain permanent nurses. According to Reuters.com and the article “Short on staff: Nursing crisis strains U.S. hospitals”, hospitals in West Virginia suffer from one of the most severe cases of healthcare talent shortages in America.

With the conditions of modern nursing (being overworked, working long hours, and often handling stressful situations), you can probably understand that many nurses are highly frustrated and, because many workplaces are understaffed. When workers are stressed, they tend to make poor decisions that can lead to inadequate healthcare services, incorrect billing, and improper diagnoses and treatments. For managers, it is very difficult to enforce high-quality standards in recruiting, skills assessments, talent evaluation, hiring and job performance under these circumstances.

Making a Positive Impact on the Healthcare Talent Crisis

Now that we understand some of the problems impacting the healthcare field (an unlimited supply of patients, overworked physicians and nurses, and increased exposure to risk), we need to think about how we should address these issues. Since most healthcare hiring authorities look for four-year degrees when they hire nurses, waiting for students to complete a four-year degree will not address the talent crisis quickly enough. I believe that the healthcare industry could benefit from career boot camps, which would cut down on the turnaround time to get new healthcare professionals educated and trained. Career boot camps are very popular in the tech and computer science industries – companies like CodeCrew in Memphis, Tenn., and the Nashville Software School in Nashville, Tenn., have career kick starters (or boot camps) that offer industry-recognized certifications in just six months. These programs were created by computer science and technology professionals who understand which skills are truly important to be successful in software engineering, coding, programming, and development.

The healthcare industry could duplicate this model. Human resource professionals, including recruiters, must think outside of the box when it comes to sourcing candidates and developing long-term talent acquisition strategies. Instead of simply looking for nurses with 4-year degrees, they must look at the nurses’ entire array of skills, experience, and education. This constitutes a re-education or retraining for healthcare professionals who screen healthcare talent for a living. They must assess which skills are truly important and which skills are not as critical.

Just like most industries today, many perceived requirements are irrelevant and have nothing to do with the actual job. You have a couple of ways to ensure that prospective employees have the necessary skills. One way is through Predefined Tests. These are off-the-shelf, single-subject tests with questions that offer a quick-start solution and test the fundamentals. The second way is through Job-Based Tests. These are online-assessments designed to evaluate candidates for a specific job title with questions in applicable subject areas and situations on the job. If all of these suggestions were to be implemented—offering new education and training opportunities to provide the skills necessary for healthcare positions, reexamining the way healthcare professionals are recruited, and rethinking how we attract talent and determine their skills through assessment testing–we could immediately make a positive impact on the healthcare talent crisis.

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