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Recruitment and Retention in the Medical Field

Abstract

Medical institutions and healthcare facilities encounter challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified medical technicians, nurse aides, and other support staff members. The institutions do not provide competitive wages to these staff members making them hop from one institution to another in search of better wages. Others quit the profession and look for alternative jobs. Poor working conditions in healthcare institutions also contribute to the high rate of turnover among medical technicians and nurse aides. Health institutions do not offer opportunities for these groups of staff members to advance their careers. Hence, an individual works as a medical technician or nurse aide for the entire time that he or she works for the healthcare institution. This aspect discourages many from applying for jobs in the institutions, thus making it hard for medical institutions to recruit qualified medical technicians and nurse aides. The high turnover rate in healthcare institutions pushes the institutions into huge costs in terms of time consumed in hiring and training new employees. Moreover, the turnover rate affects the productivity of those left in the institutions, thus slowing down the institutions’ efficiency in service delivery.

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Introduction

Currently, medical institutions and healthcare facilities experience challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified nurse aides and medical technicians. Health facilities are currently reporting an increase in the shortage of these critical staff members. Besides, the retention of these employees is turning into a nightmare for most healthcare facilities (Edwards, 2006). Some health facilities are reporting a 100 percent turnover. The problem is expected to intensify as more baby boomers continue to retire and seek medical care. Numerous factors are contributing to the current challenges in recruiting and retaining nurse aides and other medical technicians. Some of the factors include low wages paid to the staff members relative to employees working in other industries. Moreover, healthcare facilities do not offer benefits to nurse aides and medical technicians, which forces most of them to quit and look for alternative jobs (Edwards, 2006). In addition, environmental conditions and physical demands of these jobs lead to nurse aides quitting the medical industry to look for less demanding jobs. This paper will focus on challenges in the recruitment and retention of nurse aides and medical technicians and give recommendations on what health institutions ought to do to recruit and retain qualified personnel.

Poor remuneration and working conditions

As more people grow older, the demand for nurse aides will continue going up. Recruitment and retention of nurse aides are one of the challenges facing most nursing homes, hospitals, and agencies that offer home care services. One of the factors contributing to this problem is low wages. In most cases, nurse aides are not as qualified as nurses are (Edwards, 2006). Hence, institutions pay them poorly despite the crucial role they play in helping nurses to offer quality healthcare to patients. Poor wages offered to nurse aides make them hop from one health institution to another. They are ever in search of an institution with better remuneration. In addition to the low wages, healthcare institutions do not offer employment benefits enjoyed by other staff members to nurse aides. While doctors and nurses enjoy numerous benefits like paid leave and medical covers, nurse aides hardly enjoy such benefits. Failure to extend the benefits to nurse aids demotivates them leading to most of them quitting their jobs (Edwards, 2006). Nurse aides carry out numerous tasks within the medical facilities under instructions from the nurses. Hence, they are significant assets in healthcare facilities. By not awarding them some benefits like other staff members, it makes them feel devalued, thus opting to look for other jobs.

One of the factors that make it hard for health institutions to retain their medical technicians and other support staff members that do not have degrees is the failure to involve them in making decisions on matters affecting the facilities (Edwards, 2006). Technicians and other support staff members perceive themselves as part of the team responsible for delivering healthcare services in a health facility. Consequently, they believe that human resource personnel needs to ensure that they have direct interaction with patients. Besides, they require the human resource personnel to credit them whenever they help in service delivery (Masleid, et al., 2007). However, this element does not happen in most cases, and the technicians attend to minor tasks within the healthcare facility, which inhibits their ability to grow their career thus opting to leave the institutions. Health facilities hardly delegate duties to technicians even if the technicians are capable of handling the duties and this trend contributes to the challenges encountered in retaining the technicians. Since technicians work in a single place for a long, they lose the luster of the job thus opting to leave the institution and explore new areas (Masleid, et al., 2007).

Currently, many patients are seeking the nurse aides’ services. Consequently, nurse aides are ever busy. However, the working conditions in this profession are discouraging. Nurse aides do not have specific working hours. The high demand for their services makes it hard for the aides to have time with their families or relatives (Masleid, et al., 2007). Nurse aides hardly go for leave and they might be called to work at odd hours during the night. Besides, the aides spend most of their time either standing, moving patients from one bed to another, or walking from one room to another. These activities lead to burnout (Masleid, et al., 2007). Ultimately, nurse aides end up hating their jobs thus opting to look for less demanding jobs. Poor remuneration further fuels the desire to quit and look for less demanding jobs with better remuneration and working conditions.

Employees wish to work in institutions that mind everyone’s future life. Whenever an employee feels that he or she might not have a secure future life after retirement, he or she opts to leave an organization. One of the main reasons why healthcare institutions are unable to recruit or retain nurse aides and medical technicians is because they do not offer them retirement benefits like other staff members (Masleid, et al., 2007). Most medical institutions do not give their nurse aides pension benefits or insurance covers. Hence, the aides feel insecure working in these institutions. The fact that the institutions pay them meager salaries makes it hard for them to save whatever they earn. Therefore, working in these institutions poses a threat to the future life of nurse aides and medical technicians forcing them to look for alternative jobs, which might help them to save for their future even if they do not get pension cover.

In 2007, medical technicians were receiving an hourly wage of $11.69. Their annual earnings ranged from $17,400 to $34,630 (Masleid, et al., 2007). This wage is never adequate for the staff members bearing in mind the harsh conditions that the job subjects them to and the responsibilities that they are supposed to meet. The poor hourly wage given to medical technicians makes it hard for healthcare facilities to retain their technicians. Furthermore, it is hard for most people with skills in a medical technician to seek employment in these facilities, which underlines why most of the healthcare facilities encounter challenges in recruiting the desired medical technicians.

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High turnover in the medical field

Whenever employees feel not satisfied at their place of work, they opt to move out and look for one that meets their needs. At times, staff members may move out of a company due to poor working conditions, poor remuneration, or even desire to expand their knowledge (Patterson, et al., 2005). The medical field is one of the fields that suffer from high employee turnover. Nurse aides, medical technicians, and other support staff members always leave healthcare facilities to search for greener pastures. Today, the high turnover rate among the nurse aides and medical technicians is attributed to poor wages and few benefits given to these employees. A study conducted on national wage indicated that nurse aides and medical technicians are among the employees who not only receive poor wages but also enjoy a limited number of benefits at their workplaces (Patterson, et al., 2005). Their pay rate is counted based on the number of hours an employee works. Nevertheless, the rates are too poor compared to those paid to other medical practitioners like doctors and nurses. Consequently, nurse aides and medical technicians opt to look for alternative institutions that offer competitive wages.

Lack of standard payment rates in this industry is leading to health facilities losing staff members to their rivals. Demand for nurse aides’ services is rapidly increasing. On the other hand, the number of people opting to work in these areas is going down. Hence, to attract and retain nurse aides and medical technicians, healthcare facilities keep on varying their payment rates (Patterson, et al., 2005). This element underlines the reason why institutions are unable to recruit and retain nurse aides and medical technicians since whenever a healthcare facility hikes its payment rate, all the staff members move to that facility. When another one offers a competitive wage, the staff members again seek employment in that institution. Currently, the turnover rates among nurse aides and medical technicians who work in nursing homes are higher relative to the turnover rate for other labor forces in general health care settings. Yearly turnover for nurse aides working in nursing homes ranges from 40 percent and at times it goes up to 100 percent.

Costs associated with a high turnover rate

The high turnover rate among the nurse aides and medical technicians has both direct and indirect costs on healthcare facilities. One of the costs relates to recruiting and training new staff members to replace those that leave (Scanlon, 2007). Given that, it is very expensive in terms of time and money to recruit and train medical staff members, healthcare institutions end up incurring unpredicted costs whenever some of their nurse aides or medical technicians quit. These organizations set aside financial resources to cater to the recruitment process and training. Besides, organizations lose most of the time they could use offering services to clients as the time is allocated to the recruitment and training process.

In addition to the recruitment and training costs, healthcare facilities may at times incur outsourcing costs. Before recruiting and training new nurse aides or medical technicians, healthcare institutions outsource the services offered by these staff members from temporary agencies (Scanlon, 2007). The agencies charge high rates for the services relative to the wage costs the institutions incur in paying nurse aides and medical technicians.

According to Scanlon (2007), “the indirect costs associated with the high turnover rate among the medical technicians and nurse aides include reduction in institutional efficiency and reduction in employee productivity” (p.14). Whenever an institution loses employees, its efficiency in respect to service delivery is affected. When healthcare institutions lose nurse aides or medical technicians, it becomes hard for institutions to continue offering their services efficiently. The number of staff members decreases while the number of clients requiring their services remains constant and at times continues to escalate. It thus becomes hard for the remaining staff members to fill the gap left by the resigning staff members. The quality of services offered by the affected institution becomes poor as the remaining staff members strive to ensure that they attend to every patient. For instance, it becomes hard for organizations offering home care services to meet the needs of every patient, which in return affects the organizational reputation leading to the respective institution losing most of its clients.

Employee turnover results in a reduction in employee productivity for those that remain at work. In most cases, the staff members that remain in an organization do so because they lack an alternative. If a chance comes for them to leave, they would do it without hesitation (Tait, 2002). Since circumstances force them to remain in the organization, they are never committed to organizational goals, and they only report to their duties hoping that a time will come for them to leave. Whenever nurse aides or medical technicians leave a healthcare institution, the productivity level of those left in the institution goes down. Their morale is affected making it hard for them to carry out their duties with vigor. Institutional productivity goes down which leads to returns. Cases of absenteeism within the institution swell up as employees look for excuses just to be out of work or have a chance to haunt alternative jobs.

Recommendations

For healthcare institutions to recruit and retain qualified nurse aides, medical technicians and other support staff members should initiate numerous strategies. One of the reasons that lead to these staff members leaving an organization is poor wages and benefits. Hence, to ensure that the recruited staff members do not leave the institution, healthcare institutions should come up with attractive wages and benefits (Helmer, et al., 2004). Besides, human resource managers in these institutions should establish training programs to help the staff members to advance their careers. Moreover, to address the recruitment and retention challenges facing the medical field, managers should come up with employee support programs. The program may seek to improve the working conditions, which contribute to high turnover among the nurse aides and medical technicians.

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Lesson learned

From this study, it is clear that poor wages and lack of programs that facilitate employee growth and development are some of the factors that contribute to the high rate of employee turnover in healthcare institutions. Moreover, I have learned that enhancing working conditions in healthcare institutions would go a long way in attracting nurse aides and retaining those already working for the organizations. Based on the study, I can now help healthcare institutions to identify the factors that hinder their ability to recruit and retain nurse aides and other support staff members. Besides, I can effectively apply the knowledge acquired from this study to assist healthcare institutions in coming up with strategies to facilitate attracting and retaining qualified personnel.

Conclusion

Medical institutions encounter immense problems in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel. One of the problems touches on hiring and retaining medical technicians and nurse aides. These employees work in job categories that do not offer competitive wages. Besides, the staff members enjoy a limited number of benefits compared to other medical personnel. Hence, they always move from one medical institution to another whenever they realize that another institution is offering better wages. Besides poor wages and a limited number of benefits, the tasks carried out by nurse aides and medical technicians are so demanding, thus most of the staff members suffer from burnout. Cases of turnover among medical technicians and nurse aides are high across the globe. The turnover pushes health institutions to settle huge costs. They are forced to hire and train new staff members to replace those that quit their jobs. In addition, organizational efficiency is affected, as the remaining staff members are unable to maintain the same level of service delivery. Turnover also affects the remaining employees thus lowering their productivity. The quality of services becomes poor as healthcare institutions strive to serve all their patients using the available staff members.

References

Edwards, M. (2006). The nurses’ aide: past and future necessity. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 26(2), 237-245.

Helmer, F. T., Olson, S. F., & Heim, R. I. (2004). Strategies for nurse aide job satisfaction. The Journal of Long-Term Care Administration, 17(5), 10-14.

Masleid, M. K., Audrey, K., & Linda, O. (2007). Improving certified nurse aide retention: A long-term care management challenge. Journal of Nursing Administration, 28(3), 56-61.

Patterson, P., Probst, J., Leith, K., Corwin, S., & Powell, M. (2005). Recruitment and retention of emergency medical technicians: a qualitative study. Journal of Allied Health, 34(3), 153-162.

Scanlon, W. (2007). Nursing Workforce Recruitment and Retention of Nurses and Nurse Aides is a Growing Concern. New York, NY: Diane Publishing.

Tait, J. (2002). Practice success: the challenge of recruiting and retaining technicians. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 43(2), 134-136.

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