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Actions for innovative approaches in health care human resource management to:

11a. Health care should provide incentives for over age fifty employees to postpone retirement. Concurrently, develop re-entry programs for those who have left health care careers, but still desire to contribute. This is the easiest and quickest solution for the current health care workforce shortage. Doug Portez of Qorvis has stated: “The health care workforce shortage is the ‘perfect storm’ of demographics.” The general population is getting older as the health care workforce ages.

  • Establish the Northern Virginia Association of Retired Health Care Employees to register and coordinate retired health care workers. This information would show who might be interested in working part tim e, teaching, mentoring new workers, mentoring new Americans, mentoring high school students, and providing career awareness to parents, educators, and students.
  • Develop training programs, with full time-pay and benefits, during training, for exceptional older health care workers who might stay in the workforce if given the opportunity to retrain into less strenuous and /or stressful occupations. Examples: clinical coding, Nursing and Allied Health full time or adjunct faculty.
  • Develop re-entry programs for retirees who have left health care but wish to return.
  • Develop flexible work schedules, compensation, and benefit plans that attract and meet the needs of older workers.
  • Develop methodologies and technology that accommodate the physical limitations of older workers.

11b. Health care institutions must create integrated career and educational ladders within their human resource systems. These should be initially directed at creating opportunity for existing workers who have demonstrated commitment and potential. These institutions should also use integrated career and educational ladders as a recruitment tool for new Americans and the economically disadvantaged. These initiatives generate new skills and cultivate an atmosphere in which workers can perceive opportunity and long term employment. Reducing the costs associated with staff turnover can fund the training and education of incumbent and new disadvantaged workers.

11c. The American Hospital Association report In Our Hands (April 2002) has several recommendations that are applicable to Northern Virginia:

  • Assist incumbent workers with the education and training necessary to keep up-to-date with the rapid and constant changes in medicine and technology.
  • Establish partnerships with industries outside of health care to learn from their expertise in designing work and work processes. (This is especially applicable to the utilization of information technology due to Northern Virginia’s robust IT industry.)
  • Mentor, educate and train front-line supervisors and managers. (They are the key to the retention of satisfied, long term employees.)
  • Establish competitive wages, benefits, and upward mobility opportunities for entry level positions in ambulatory, inpatient, and long term facilities. Health care institutions must provide entry level workers the same compensation packages offered in the service industry (fast food, etc.). Given the shift work and unpleasant tasks required of health care workers compensation packages are not commensurate or competitive.
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