Healthcare organizations struggle to find qualified candidates to fill vacant positions

Are hospitals and healthcare system HR executives looking the other way and hiring subpar candidates to fill long-vacant positions?

That appears to be the case, according to a new survey (PDF) by Leaders for Today, a Massachusetts-based healthcare recruiting firm. Data from its survey indicated that 31% of the 204 healthcare leaders surveyed can’t find qualified candidates to fill a range of clinical and executive positions.

Moreover, 24% say that when HR fills a position, the hire is often unsatisfactory for the needs of the organization. And nearly 20% say that the search is often so slow it costs the organization an inordinate amount of money. 

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Signs of a tight healthcare labor market abound, with many hospitals and healthcare systems offering five-figure packages for relocation costs and paying for continuing education to retain and attract nurses. Physicians are also commanding the highest signing bonuses ever, with some getting as much as $200,000. Boston Medical Center has embarked on an elaborate employee support program in order to keep morale up and ensure that staff stay in their jobs for longer periods of time.

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Nearly 40% of respondents said it took four to six months to fill a senior position (manager or above), while 31% took seven months to a year. More than 40% of those working at larger hospitals (251 or more beds) say it costs $30,000 or more to make a single senior management hire. Altogether, nearly 60% of respondents rated their organization as either “not very good” or “poor” in terms of its ability to find “good people in a reasonable amount of time.”

“The findings tell us is that there simply isn’t enough qualified talent to go around and that frustration levels are rising,” Bill Haylon, CEO of Leaders for Today, said in an announcement. “No matter how many HR people hospitals have on staff to recruit and retain employees, significant gaps exist. In general, hospital HR teams have too much on their plates and this data raises questions as to whether available time is being allocated properly.

"Too often," he said, "the focus is on solving the problems of today and worrying about tomorrow, tomorrow. In a business that is based primarily on human talent, this approach can be short-sighted.”