Why Did You?
Finding and keeping good clinicians rate high on the priority lists of most Migrant and Community Health Centers. Where the “business” of an organization is providing excellent patient care, quality clinicians are obviously crucial to the success of the health center. Many administrators know the aggravation of coping with the unexpected departure of a clinician. Clinical staff vacancies can not only affect health center earnings, but other providers are stressed by an increased patient load, continuity of care is interrupted, and organizational morale drops.
Human Resources departments are not the only ones who are seeking help with these issues. Clinicians who are motivated to work with the underserved also regularly express their frustrations regarding finding work that meets their needs professionally and personally.
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 drastic seasonal changes in work load. 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.
Migrant Clinicians Network has long recognized the importance of clinician recruitment and retention issues and has attempted to assist both health centers and clinicians in their efforts to develop stable, quality programs. Many of our programs have been geared toward helping to augment the skills of clinicians through continuing education sessions, Spanish language training, and development of practice tools and models for working with farmworkers. We have also provided opportunities for clinicians to become involved in research, to improve their access to clinical information, to network with each other and to become effective advocates and national leaders.
The creation of the Presidential Initiative to double the number of access points within the Migrant and Community Health Center safety net, will require an additional 15,000 clinicians. This estimate does not take into account the current 20 to 30 percent annual turn over within the system.
In response to the critical need to both find and hire new providers and retain those that are currently in practice, MCN has moved more aggressively into the arena. We have initiated and refined a number of our efforts, which are designed to directly impact on the problems we hear from those in the field
We have surveyed clinicians through our membership, at workshops and at site visits, a process that has resulted in some consistent findings and recommendations. Our next step has been to take this information directly to the health centers, in the form of tools  and expertise that can help them to plan and prepare for their current and future recruitment and retention needs for clinical staff.