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Healthcare recruitment: Challenges, solutions and best practices

Recruitment | 6 Min Read

Healthcare recruitment: Challenges, solutions and best practices

Chapter 1: What is healthcare recruitment?

Healthcare recruitment or healthcare hiring is the process of identifying, assessing, shortlisting and onboarding talent best suited for the healthcare industry. It involves hiring suitable candidates for roles ranging from nurses, physicians and surgeons to IT (Information Technology) engineers, administrators and cleaning staff. Healthcare recruitment has unique challenges and considerations considering the demanding nature of job responsibilities in this sector. Therefore, the assessment methods and talent acquisition process must be streamlined and customized for specific staffing needs.


Why recruitment is important to the healthcare industry


Recruiting for the healthcare sector is essential for offering specialized and high-quality healthcare services, streamlining the overall patient experience, including healthcare-related and administrative tasks, etc. Moreover, the growth and success of a healthcare organization depend on the people working there. Therefore, healthcare organizations can become industry leaders by recruiting the best candidates for each role.

The face of healthcare recruitment is changing as vacant positions for different roles (ranging from registered nursing to physicians) are rising continuously. The gap in demand and supply is one of the significant challenges faced by the healthcare sector. According to the study published by Mercer in 2021, the demand for registered nurses in the US is expected to grow by 5% over the next five years. As a result, nearly 900,000 nurses will retire by 2026, and healthcare providers must hire more than 1.1 million registered nurses after considering the rising demand.


Similarly, the demand for mental health workers in the US is expected to rise by 10% by 2026, and healthcare providers need to fill more than half a million vacancies by 2026.


Such alarming statistics highlight the need to transform the healthcare recruitment scenario and employ new methods to fulfill the existing gap.


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Why should healthcare managers know about specific recruitment strategies?


Healthcare managers can save time, effort and costs incurred in the healthcare recruitment process by learning about specific recruitment strategies. For instance, if healthcare managers know about the agencies that provide online assessment tests, conduct psychometric tests, and help find the best-fitted candidate, they can delegate responsibilities while focusing on their core jobs, thereby reducing several recruiting hassles.


Chapter 2: Overcoming healthcare recruiting challenges

The following sections of this blog will elaborate on the most common healthcare recruiting challenges, ways to overcome them, the role of psychometric testing and other assessment methods that ensure successful and sustainable hires.


The most pressing challenges recruiters face with healthcare hiring


Following are some of the most significant healthcare hiring challenges reported by recruiters and HR (Human Resource) managers.


infographic 1

Time-consuming conventional hiring methods

Many healthcare providers are still relying on traditional hiring processes. To some extent, the limited to zero room for error justifies the reliance on the said methods. However, the medical profession is too skill-centric and healthcare hiring requires excellent attention to detail. So, recruiters need to employ rigorous testing methods, screening processes and detailed assessments to find the right candidate. Such hiring activities are time-consuming and exhausting. Moreover, recruiters may invest excessive resources in the process with a limited success rate. In addition, recruiters need to respond to applications as fast as possible considering the ongoing war to acquire top talent in the healthcare industry.

Shortage of qualified personnel

The healthcare sector is one of the major sectors facing a shortage of a qualified talent pool. Furthermore, the lack of registered nurses and the piling up patient-base for physicians adds to the woes. As a result, the workforce in the healthcare sector is facing a huge burden. 2020’s COVID-19 disruption further exposed the issue as the need for healthcare workers surged considerably.

Experts suggest that the new generation of medical practitioners is not yet qualified enough to reach higher positions. This factor presents enormous challenges for recruiters in the healthcare sector.

Demand for primary care physicians will grow by 4% over the next five years while retirement risk accelerates with the age of the workforce. By 2026, it is estimated that almost 23,000 primary care physicians will permanently leave the profession, leaving a vacuum of demand for primary care providers.

US healthcare labor market report 2021, Mercer

Budget constraints hindering competitive compensation

Like every industry, the talent pool is inclined toward working for the healthcare provider that pays more than the others. However, due to budget constraints, recruiters struggle to offer competitive compensation. So, there is a high possibility that a qualified candidate will go to the competitor.

To add to the competition, healthcare organizations with massive funding offer higher pay scales to retain their existing workforce. They also provide substantial signing bonuses than others to acquire new and qualified talent. As a result, sourcing top talent remains a constant struggle for other players in the industry.

Failure to meet candidate expectations

Candidates are well-aware of the staff shortages and the fiercely-competitive environment in recruiting for the healthcare sector. So, the expectations regarding working hours, work culture, pay scale and other benefits are increasing. Suppose the recruiting organization falls short of any of the abovementioned areas and cannot fulfill the expectations. Then, it is likely that a leading healthcare professional may join another employer, or a new talent will not come on board.


How can a healthcare recruiter succeed: Solutions to healthcare recruiting challenges


A healthcare recruiter can succeed by digitizing parts of the recruitment process, developing a candidate-driven strategy, building engaging candidate pipelines, streamlining the onboarding process and offering a thriving work culture. The following solutions further eliminate the pressing healthcare recruitment challenges.


Tailor-made job descriptions

Attracting top talent and qualified individuals involves simplifying the decision-making process. Using standard templates for job descriptions may turn off candidates as they may feel that their skillsets and experience do not match job descriptions. So, creating tailor-made job descriptions on recruiting platforms is a great way to entice qualified applicants.


Highlighting a positive work culture

It is essential to highlight your organization’s work culture, benefits and growth opportunities.

  • Besides the pay scale, candidates want a good work environment and a favorable work-life balance.
  • You can highlight employee reviews and testimonials to help new candidates choose your organization.
  • Instead of explaining growth opportunities during interviews, showcasing them in the early stages of talent acquisition will be a step forward.That way, candidates will be inclined to join your organization even if you cannot offer extravagant pay packages. (Read more about building an employer brand in Chapter 3.)


Virtual recruiting for the healthcare sector

81% of the survey respondents chose virtual interviewing platforms to continue with planned hiring needs.

Source: The state of talent acquisition 2021, Mercer | Mettl

Virtual recruiting gained traction during the COVID-19 disruption in 2020. However, the trend is expected to continue due to flexibility and time-saving benefits. Virtual platforms simplify the interviewing process and make room for more skill-based assessments. Such tools help refine the selection criteria and filter in the most qualified candidates.


Eliminating unnecessary stress from job offers

The war for talent in the healthcare sector will continue as long as the gap in supply and demand persists. So, choosing qualified candidates as soon as possible is more than necessary after investing a long time and effort in the recruitment process.

Many candidates may have many job offers at hand at the same time. And many recruiters may negotiate with them and try to land the best offers. These recruiters will conduct the negotiations on their own time, and the process may stress out the candidates.

In that case, you should employ various strategies such as job offer management software to streamline the process, make negotiations more accessible, and fill open positions faster.


Better onboarding efficiency

The traditional process of collecting physical documents for onboarding the candidate is time-consuming. This process shows that the organization is not changing with time. On the other hand, the digital onboarding process helps save time as candidates can upload the necessary paperwork through digital mediums. Healthcare recruiters can verify the same.

This digital onboarding process frees up the time consumed in submitting and verifying documents after joining. Reducing administrative tasks and efficient onboarding speak a lot about the employer’s dedication toward enhancing candidate experience. Naturally, candidates stay longer in such organizations.


Partnering with recruitment agencies

By partnering with recruitment agencies, healthcare providers can focus on the core tasks such as taking care of patients, consulting patients remotely and conducting R&D activities. In addition, recruitment agencies can work on initial processes such as finding the appropriate and qualified candidates, and conducting online assessment tests and psychometric evaluations. Moreover, these agencies can help find personnel for non-medical departments such as IT, administration, insurance and others in healthcare organizations.

Also, read

Twenty-five recruitment metrics to level-up HR management


Chapter 3: Best practices when recruiting for healthcare

Recruiters must upgrade their healthcare recruiting approach with tested recruitment strategies that yield the most favorable outcomes. Integrating technology into the recruitment process, fueling data-based decisions and enriching the overall candidate experience are some of the critical best practices every HR professional should consider.

Furthermore, there should be an emphasis on:


Building sustainable talent pools for urgent hiring needs


Finding the exact kind of talent and specialization you need at the right time can be difficult. That is why it can often take months to fill critical positions in the healthcare sector. Therefore, building and maintaining a well-organized talent pool means that suitable, vetted candidate data is available for assessment and interview at all times.


Nurturing a strong employer brand

In today’s transparent digital world, a company’s employment brand must be both highly visible and highly attractive because candidates now often find the employer, not the reverse. To leverage this interest, companies are intensively managing their employment brand, which can “pull” candidates toward them.

Talent acquisition: Enter the cognitive recruiter, Deloitte Insights

Consider the following tips for building a great employer brand:


Infographic 2


Harnessing job boards specific to the healthcare sector


When recruiting for a particular industry, it makes more sense to focus on industry-specific job boards instead of generic hiring platforms. Therefore, recruiters should explore websites and portals that cater to job seekers only interested in the healthcare sector. It adds a much necessary filter to help narrow down the top-tier talent.


Using the right assessment tools to shortlist candidates


While standard assessment tools like resumes and certificates showcase applicants’ domain knowledge and relevant skills, these don’t always show the larger picture. Therefore, healthcare recruiters must turn to assessments that reveal potential hires’ personality traits or attitudes. Such assessment metrics help predict future behavior and job performance, thereby contributing to the quality of hires.

Additional tips to overcome healthcare recruitment challenges

To cope with the talent shortage and close the supply and demand gap, healthcare providers must expand their talent search to include medical students, retired military professionals with experience in the medical field, dental professionals, etc. Such a candidate base can help with jobs that do not require highly specialized skills or extensive medical training. For example, they can assist with administrative tasks or reduce the burden on healthcare experts when they need extra pairs of hands.

Engaging pipelines and HR tracking systems come in handy when managing extensive talent acquisition. For example, using technology to manage resumes on the website, enabling ease in approaching you through LinkedIn or emails, and engaging the potential candidates through weekly emails regarding your work culture, new openings, healthcare advice, and updates will help you build a pipeline of job seekers. Furthermore, utilizing a digital tracking system will lower many burdens if new openings emerge in your organization.

Carry out psychometric tests to determine the appropriate candidate

Many roles in the healthcare sector require specialized medical skills, attention to detail, and unmatched dedication. Though recruiting a highly-specialized, experienced and skilled healthcare professional is paramount, it is also essential to conduct psychometric tests to determine the candidate’s aptitude, personality traits, abilities, and behavioral traits. These factors determine whether the candidate will align with the work culture, handle the pressure, analyze complex situations and find solutions, and lead a team of professionals. In addition, a candidate’s personality- and behavior-related facets play a significant role in their growth and organizational development. So, involving psychometric tests in healthcare recruiting processes can help improve the quality of hire.


Mercer | Mettl tests for hiring healthcare professionals

Mercer | Mettl strives to unburden healthcare recruiters by providing online assessment tests and state-of-the-art recruitment solutions. Moreover, the firm is instrumental in assisting healthcare recruitment and finding the best-fitting candidates through scientific psychometric assessments. The online tests focus on reducing the overall turnover and time incurred in the recruitment processes for the healthcare sector. Also, customization options help assess the skills and reduce the efforts during all stages of healthcare recruitment.

You can explore:

Originally published October 14 2022, Updated October 17 2022

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About This Topic

The primary objectives of recruitment and selection are to ensure high-quality candidates who are culturally fit and work toward shared organizational goals and vision.

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