Thursday, April 30, 2009

When Good People Get Bad News – Healthcare Job Growth Declines

According to an article by John Cummins at HealthLeaders Media on April 27th, 2009 we may be seeing a blip on our radar in the healthcare market place.

The article below indicates that there seems to be a trend downward in job creation and demand in healthcare.

Hospital job growth, until recently one of the few bright spots for a nation deep in recession and high unemployment, has all but flat-lined so far this year, Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

For the first quarter of 2009, preliminary BLS figures show that the hospital sector created slightly less than 6,200 jobs nationwide. In the first three months of 2008, the hospital sector created 32,500 new jobs.

BLS reports that there were more than 4.7 million hospital jobs nationwide through the end of March 2009. "It's a response to the fact that volumes are weak and hospitals are adapting their staffing to adjust to that," says David Bachman, an analyst with Longbow Research in Cleveland. "Employee expense is a huge cost center for hospitals, so the extent that they can manage that appropriately that is one of the few levers they have to try to keep margins from deteriorating too much in this environment."

If hospital job creation continues at this pace, fewer than 25,000 new jobs will be created in 2009, as compared with 137,100 new hospital jobs in 2008; 105,700 new jobs in 2007; and 81,400 new jobs in 2006, according to BLS data.

"We are going to see subdued job growth throughout the remainder of this year," Bachman says. "The sentiment among hospital leaders could be we are not going to see a big upswing in patient volumes and margins are so tight, or negative, so they are going to try to continue to do more with less. Essentially, there is no real employment growth in the hospital space over the course of the year, which is very different from what we've seen recently."

The stagnant job growth in the hospital sector comes as the American Hospital Association today released a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 hospitals, nearly half of which report layoffs.

"The fact that hospitals are cutting staff challenges the notion that hospitals are recession-proof," says AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock.

The job growth is also adversely affected by reduced patient volumes, which are being reported by hospitals across the nation.

It's not all bad news. The slowdown in job growth and the weak economy have helped hospitals—at least temporarily—quell an acute shortage of nurses and other clinical staff. Hospitals are reporting that turnover has declined, and that many former nurses have returned to the workforce for any number of pocketbook reasons.

Bachman says the recession has created a "bunker mentality" among nurses and other healthcare workers. BLS data show that—like everyone else—nurses and other healthcare workers are digging in, putting their heads down, and staying put until the economy improves.

Historic trends have shown an uptick in hospital hiring in the second quarter of each year, as hospitals get a better idea of their patient volume projections and they look to graduating nurses and other clinicians to fill jobs. "You start to get some pickup again in March, based on what we've seen historically," Bachman says. "Probably if you look out over April, May, and June, those are a good test to see what is going on here."

Ouch. We know that spending on elective medical procedures has dropped. Hospitals are scrambling in the credit markets like other industries too.

It isn't too surprising to see that hiring has dropped. The surprising thing is the forecast for when it will pick up again.

Basically, as the Baby Boom generation continues to age we know that there will be high demand on the healthcare market, but how are hospitals going to cope with chronic shortages?

Well, they will work smarter and they will be smarter about keeping their best in class talent from physicians to paraprofessionals who "extend" the reach of the physicians and nurses.

There is also a lot of jitteriness about what types of reforms to expect from the Obama administration. However, healthcare has been a target for a long time. There was much discussion about reform out of the Clinton Administration too…and yet very little changed.

I look forward to seeing how the best and the brightest of this industry embrace their challenges.

It will require even more strategy on the part of hospitals and medical practices to be creative in their leadership and staffing development plans.

That means being sure you have solid loyalty programs, referral programs and individual professional development as a high priority. Even though there appears to be a shortage, there is always a call for best in class talent.

If you are best in class talent or a best in class employer – we've got all sorts of ideas to share. Just let us know.

Happy and healthy hiring and job searching.

Success by Design – one great employer and employee at a time.

Lynden Next Iteration; NI Health Jobs

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Smart and Sassy Can’t Say Practical

I don't usually talk about my candidates. As a matter of fact, I make it a point to NOT talk about them to preserve and protect their confidentiality. However, I have to break my rule this once.

As you may know, I work with physicians usually. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are super smart and uber smart. There is a shortage of them in the US. Some work with recruiters to help them find jobs. Some have a hard time working with anyone. By that I mean, we have done such an awesome job of teaching physicians to rely on their own judgment, to trust their instincts and to reluctantly rely on others (beside a physician colleague) that they have a hard time delegating any part of their job search to someone else.

Now, just for a second, to intensify the pitch of my whine that makes them tough cookies to work with as a recruiter. Docs don't listen to your advice and they go off wandering alone – much like my seven year old. The real issue is that the recruiter is an asset to the physician. Recruiters have experience in that in which docs don't – finding jobs.

So, here is my rant. I've been working with a doc who has an offer in hand. He is interested in joining this great practice with people he is confident will be good to work with for a long time. He is and has been seeking attorney review of his offer. I applaud his desire to have attorney review. I believe that is a step every physician candidate should take. However, please know that it always: 1) adds time to the negotiation process; 2) adds expense; and 3) I've yet to see anyone go to an attorney and say, "I want you to find only the things that are right about this so we can move forward quickly." By definition, adding an attorney adds a layer of complexity to the process. Attorney's (I am one by training so I can say this with an insider's navel-lint-picking-perspective) HAVE to find something to correct. You'd be mad if you paid someone $500 or so dollars to have them come back and say, "everything is fine."

So, I've got this candidate with a job offer and the first attorney, one he selected, takes FOREVER to get back to him. Doc starts calling attorney and attorney has excuses about why he hasn't had a chance to review the offer letter agreement. Eventually, attorney stops returning calls. Doc is desperate. Super Recruiter (me) steps in and says, "lookie here are the names of well respected firms that I know 1) do this work on a regular basis, 2) guarantee that they will produce an answer promptly." Viola, a win-win for everyone. Doc even sends Super Recruiter a note saying thanks for the suggestions.

Next, what do I learn? Well, Doc has hired a new attorney. Yeah. However, it isn't one of the ones recommended by me, it is some other guy….so we are still waiting on the results of "attorney" review. Just for the record…it has been over a month. I'm sure that Doc will come back with feedback about the offer for my client soon. I'm sure eventually we will get to an acceptable arrangement between the two. I'm also sure that like my seven year old, I'll forgive him for this interminable delay and send him happily on his way to his new job. But, just for the record, if he had listened to me, sought my advice and allowed me to be a true partner to his process the offer negotiations would have been over at least two weeks ago and he would be working with the relocation specialist by now rather than still being up in the air.

Ok. I'm done. I just think that sometimes we "do what we think we need to do" without thinking about the consequences. In this case his prospective employer is learning something about this Doc and what it is like to work with him. Not all these impressions are good. Wish it was different, but in this instance the Doc choose to do his own thing and I will support him to the finish – cleaning up behind. Food for thought.

Happy and healthy hiring and job searching.

Success by design. One candidate, good advice and retention tips at a time.

Lynden Kidd and www.nihealthjobs.com