13 Feb How to Tackle Staffing Challenges in Pediatric Practices
The current job market is unlike anything that has been seen for decades. In healthcare, the national impact of an employee shortage is being felt as demand for physical and mental healthcare services outstrips supply.
Growth in the healthcare jobs sector in 2022 was 56.5% above the pre-pandemic baseline. While there is job availability in the industry, many pediatric practices still find it challenging to find adequate staff. Compounding the problem is the mounting physician shortage due to factors like aging physicians and provider burnout, making overall staffing more difficult. The Association of American Medical Colleges currently estimates that by 2034, there will be a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians in the United States alone.
While there are many reasons for this shortfall, the impact will be felt intensely across specialty and primary care. Some employees took job offers from large health systems that pulled them out of private practice and local communities, while others retired or left to pursue new careers after experiencing burnout.
After spending much of the pandemic innovating new ways to keep staff engaged, many practices are now being served termination notices from core team members. Trying to tackle the challenge of staffing your practice can be frustrating, especially if this is not an area where you have much experience.
So what can you do?
Understanding the Importance of Staffing a Pediatric Practice
Staffing is a critical part of any pediatric practice. Everyone from your front desk to your biller is the face of your business. Every word they say and action they take should be geared towards providing the best experience possible.
Not to be forgotten is the need for appropriate staff training. Whether it’s learning your EHR or the specifics of their role, you can not overlook training. The AAP has an excellent article about training and staff development to help you get started. It is broken down into three parts: new employees, new developments and regulations, and assuming new roles and responsibilities. It also includes a sample orientation checklist.
Hiring the right people ensures that patients and their families have a strong connection with you, making them feel supported and understood. In turn, they are more likely to refer your pediatric practice to other family members and friends.
The Best Way to Build Your Team
Building a great pediatric support team is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight. The best way to ensure that you are attracting the right people is to design a hiring process that reflects the values of your practice. Here are some tips on how to achieve that.
- Write a clear and thoughtful job description. The primary purpose of a job description is to ensure the job will meet the needs of your practice and recruit the right talent for the position. Make sure you include all relevant job responsibilities and expectations. When you clearly specify the qualifications for a specific role, employees who don’t fit the criteria are less likely to apply.
- Discuss your goals for the position in every interview. Being able to articulate your goals for the position during the hiring process will weed out people who will not be a good fit. How the interviewee responds to your vision of the goals for a particular job may confirm if they are a good fit for your practice and if they are serious about the job long-term.
- Carefully screen for interpersonal skills. Hiring someone with the right mix of interpersonal skills and knowledge is key to ensuring a good fit in your practice. You can train someone to learn many aspects of a job, but excellent interpersonal skills are an innate quality that many people just don’t have.
- Don’t be afraid to use social media or word-of-mouth. Traditional hiring sites like Indeed or Monster are great for finding a large number of candidates, but don’t dismiss social media or word-of-mouth. Posting your job on social media or telling friends and colleagues about the opening could help you find someone who is great for the position and is already embedded in the community. Also, consider posting the opportunity around different locations in your practice. A parent or caregiver of one of your patients may be a great fit!
Build Medical Community Connections
Many practices are starting to build connections with young medical students earlier, in hopes of establishing long-term relationships that will benefit their community. By creating clinical placements, internships, and other networking opportunities open to medical or pre-med students, your practice can expose these young people to diverse members of the medical community and offer them the chance to learn from your team.
This takes work off your existing staff and facilitates connections between your patients and the next generation of doctors interested in pediatric practice.
What To Do When Staff Isn’t Meeting Expectations
Hiring the right staff is essential, but letting go of people who aren’t meeting expectations should be considered with equal care and attention. Terminating an underperformer during busy times – especially if it risks having a significant disruption in your operations – may be difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary.
If you have a team member who isn’t contributing to the success of the practice or is detracting from your achievements, it may be time to let them go. Ongoing staffing issues can demoralize other members of your team and may even cause your patients to seek care elsewhere.
If there are recurring issues with a staff member, make sure to document them well. You may be able to put a corrective plan into place and improve their skills or behavior that way. However, if this process does not result in any improvement, the staff member should be terminated.
Your staff is vital to the success of your pediatric practice. By building a team that can meet the needs of your patients and their families, you’re setting yourself up for many years of rewarding work together.
EHRs are the key to streamlining operations, identifying efficiencies, and freeing up valuable staff time. OPs EHR and Revenue Cycle Management solutions offer features designed to help keep your practice’s financial and clinical operations running smoothly, so you can focus on what you do best – taking care of your patients. Contact us today to learn how Office Practicum can help your pediatric practice operate at its best.