Finding good clinicians, and keeping them, rate high on the priority lists of most migrant and community health centers. Quality clinicians are crucial to the success of the health center, where the primary goal is providing excellent patient care. Many administrators know the aggravation of coping with the unexpected departure of a clinician. Clinical staff vacancies don’t just affect health center earnings: other providers are stressed by an increased patient load, continuity of care is interrupted, and organizational morale drops.
Health centers serving large numbers of migrant patients face some unique challenges in building a clinical staff that possesses the specialized skills needed to work with a mobile multicultural population. Clinicians in these settings also face unusual demands, such as professional isolation, the complexity of services needed to provide basic health care, and seasonal changes in workload. New providers often find that their training programs did not adequately prepare them for what can seem like overwhelming needs. More seasoned clinicians, on the other hand, are vulnerable to burnout as their idealism fades.
In response to the critical need to both find and hire new providers and retain those that are currently in practice, MCN has created and compiled some relevant tools, listed in the Resource sidebar. A good starting point for organizations is to develop a Recruitment and Retention Plan.
Health Center Recruitment and Retention Tools
Where have all the clinicians gone?
Editor’s Note: This is an exerpt from an article written by MCN’s Candace Kugel, which first appeared in Streamline, MCN’s clinical publication providing information and resources to frontline clinicians working with mobile, underserved populations.
The recruitment and retention of clinicians are typically overseen by the organization’s chief medical officer (CMO), with the assistance of the CEO, human resources department, and others. The board of directors needs to be kept informed of clinical staffing needs and plans.
Start by taking MCN’s online Recruitment and Retention Self-Assessment Survey. This brief questionnaire serves as a quick self-assessment for health center leadership to determine readiness for effective recruitment and retention of clinical staff and provides a score indicating the level of preparation.
For more in-depth planning, use the MCN Recruitment and Retention Review Tool. This tool provides a roadmap for evaluating aspects of the organization that relate to clinician recruitment and retention, and for developing an improvement plan. It includes the self-assessment survey mentioned above, as well as a Clinician Retention Interview tool.
As part of self-assessment, the National Health Service Corps Retention Calculator can determine retention rates within an organization.
The National Association of Community Health Centers’s Recruitment and Retention Toolkit is another guide for health centers to use in finding and keeping strong clinical staff.
Develop an organizational Recruitment and Retention Plan to define the need, goals and actions that will be undertaken. Sample plans can be found in MCN’s Tool Box under the heading of “Human Resources.”