Recruitment Strategy
10 min read

How to Recruit Healthcare Professionals in 2024

global health
Written by
Paul Arnesen
Published on
August 29, 2023
Recruitment Strategy
Healthcare Recruitment

In a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the quest to attract and retain top-tier professionals has never been more pressing.

As countries and institutions grapple with global health challenges, the need for qualified healthcare professionals intensifies.

Let's look more into the complexities of healthcare recruitment, drawing from global best practices, technological advancements, and strategic insights.

Healthcare leaders globally echo a singular concern: the growing difficulty in recruiting adept healthcare professionals.

With the backdrop of worldwide health crises and an aging population, this universal challenge demands innovative, holistic strategies.

Let's look at various strategies and methods necessary for the critical task of how to recruit healthcare professionals, to ensure that everyone receives the care they deserve.

Understanding the Landscape

The World Health Organisation has sounded the alarm, indicating a potential shortage of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030.

This isn't just a number; it represents potential unmet healthcare needs, threatening both societal well-being and global economic stability.

In the short term, this shortage can lead to increased workload for existing healthcare workers, delayed treatment for patients, and a decline in the overall quality of healthcare.

Long-term implications include increased mortality rates, a decline in economic productivity due to a less healthy workforce, and increased inequalities in healthcare access and outcomes across different regions and populations.

Addressing this challenge requires a multifaceted approach that not only focuses on recruiting more healthcare professionals but also on retaining and optimally utilising the existing workforce.

Strategies for Effective Recruitment

Expand Training and Education

It is evident that there is a pressing need for greater investments in medical training.

Governments and institutions worldwide need to forge partnerships with educational establishments to broaden curriculum offerings, thus preparing a new wave of healthcare workers.

International Collaboration

The global nature of healthcare challenges necessitates global solutions.

Mutual agreements to share healthcare professionals among countries can bridge local gaps.

Such exchanges not only fulfil immediate needs but also enrich professionals with invaluable international experience.

Leveraging Technology

In our digital era, mastering how to recruit healthcare professionals means embracing technology.

Platforms enabling virtual job fairs, tele-health services, and online training sessions can transform the recruitment process, making it efficient and borderless.

Promote Rural Healthcare

A physician once shared with me the profound difference she felt practising in a rural setup, away from the urban bustle.

It's crucial to highlight these intrinsic rewards, combined with tangible incentives like better pay and infrastructure, to make rural positions more appealing.

Engage Retired Professionals

There's an adage that wisdom comes with age.

The healthcare sector stands testament to this. By creating opportunities tailored for retired professionals, institutions can benefit from their vast reservoir of experience.

Diversity and Inclusion

It's no longer a checkbox but a mandate.

An inclusive recruitment strategy ensures a broader talent spectrum, addressing the diverse healthcare needs of varied populations.

The Power of Branding in Healthcare Recruitment

An aspect often overlooked in the quest for how to recruit healthcare professionals is the power of branding.

The reputation of a healthcare institution goes beyond its infrastructure or equipment; it's about the experiences employees share, the culture the institution fosters, and its commitment to excellence.

In an era where professionals can share their experiences on platforms like Glassdoor or through social media, maintaining a positive employer brand is crucial.

Employee Testimonials

Sharing stories of current employees, their journey, growth, and experiences can be a powerful tool.

Potential recruits relate to these stories, envisioning their possible journey within the institution.

Highlighting Values

Healthcare is not just about treating illnesses; it's about holistic care, empathy, and commitment.

Institutions that genuinely uphold these values and showcase them effectively often find a higher resonance with potential recruits.

While the external perception of an institution is crucial in attracting talent, internal growth opportunities and mentorship programs play an equally important role in retention and motivation.

This brings us to the next pivotal aspect of recruitment—mentorship and professional growth.

The Significance of Mentorship and Growth

One of the recurring themes I've come across in discussions with healthcare professionals is the significance of growth opportunities and mentorship.

The medical field is vast, with continuous advancements.

The promise of mentorship and avenues for professional growth can be a compelling draw.

Structured Training Programmes

Offering structured induction and training programmes can ease the transition for new recruits and set them on a predefined growth path.

In the realm of healthcare, structured training programmes play a pivotal role in preparing professionals for real-world challenges.

A study titled "Evaluation of the SPECTRUM training programme for real-time continuous glucose monitoring: A real-world multicentre prospective study in 120 adults with type 1 diabetes" sheds light on the efficacy of such programmes.

The SPECTRUM training programme for real-time continuous glucose monitoring (rtCGM) was designed to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge.

The study found that such structured programmes effectively prepared participants for future work in hospitals.

However, it also highlighted the difference in efficacy between direct attendance and online courses, with the former being more beneficial.

Mentorship Programmes

Pairing new recruits with seasoned professionals can not only aid in skill transfer but also in acclimating to the institution's culture and values.

A qualitative study titled "Perception, Benefits, and Factors Affecting the Quality of Hospital Training Course for Pharmacy Students: A Qualitative Study with Recently Graduated Pharmacy Students" delves into the perceptions of recent pharmacy graduates regarding their hospital training courses.

The study found that mentorship and hands-on training were crucial in preparing students for real-world hospital work.

The teaching staff played a significant role in influencing the quality of education, and the study emphasized the need for practical engagement over purely theoretical instruction

Case Study: Experience and the Influence of Branding in Patient Decision-Making

In the intricate landscape of healthcare, the role of branding extends beyond recruitment and directly impacts patient choices.

To further elucidate this point, let's consider a specific case.

Background:

John, a middle-aged individual, found himself in need of medical care while in an unfamiliar city.

With limited prior knowledge of local healthcare providers, he turned to online research to make an informed decision.

Branding's Impact on John's Choice:

Among the myriad options available online, two healthcare providers stood out.

The first exhibited a strong brand presence, evident from its professional logo, comprehensive website, and authentic patient testimonials.

In contrast, the second provider, despite offering similar services, lacked a cohesive brand identity.

Predictably, John was drawn to the first provider, highlighting the profound influence of effective branding in healthcare decision-making.

Key Takeaways from John's Experience:

Trust and Credibility: A well-defined brand image can instil a sense of trust and credibility, assuring patients of the institution's dedication to excellence.

Consistent Patient Engagement: Effective branding ensures that patients receive a consistent message and experience across various touch-points, be it digital platforms or in-person interactions.

Transparent Communication: In the complex realm of healthcare, where patients often grapple with intricate medical information, a clear and transparent brand communication strategy is paramount.

Conclusion:

John's experience underscores the overarching theme of our discussion: the undeniable power of branding in healthcare.

As institutions strive to attract top-tier talent, it's crucial to recognise that a strong brand identity not only appeals to potential recruits but also plays a pivotal role in influencing patient choices.

This case serves as a reminder for healthcare institutions to invest holistically in branding, ensuring it aligns with their commitment to excellence, both as an employer and a healthcare service provider.

The Role of Technology in Streamlining the Recruitment Process

While we touched upon the importance of leveraging technology for recruitment earlier, it's worth delving deeper.

Modern Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) offer features like AI-driven candidate matching, automated communication, and analytics-driven recruitment strategies.

Research has shown that candidates' reactions to AI-enabled recruiting processes can provide valuable insights into how organisations can more effectively manage recruitment activities. P. van Esch, J. Black, D. Arli, 2020, AI and Ethics.

Furthermore, attitudes towards organisations that use AI in the recruitment process significantly influence the likelihood that potential candidates will complete the application process. P. Esch, J. Black, Joseph Ferolie, 2019, Comput. Hum. Behav.

For healthcare institutions, this means that transparency, complementary features of the AI tools, and a sense of control are crucial for the acceptance of AI-based technology in recruiting. Vanessa Laurim, Selin Arpaci, B. Prommegger, H. Krcmar, 2021.

With the deployment of AI in HRM, hospitals can enhance efficiency in recruitment and selection, gaining access to a larger recruitment pool and ensuring that the best healthcare professionals are brought on board. N. Kshetri, 2021, Management Research Review.

In the quest for how to recruit healthcare professionals, technology can significantly reduce the time-to-hire and improve the quality of recruits, ensuring that hospitals are equipped with the best talent to deliver exceptional patient care.

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Engaging the Diaspora

Many countries have a significant diaspora of healthcare professionals working abroad.

Engaging this diaspora, understanding their concerns and aspirations, and creating avenues for their return can be a goldmine.

For instance, New Zealand, recognising the potential of its diaspora, has recently launched a comprehensive plan to boost its health workforce.

The New Zealand government's initiative includes:

Easing the Process for Overseas Nurses: By providing financial support to cover registration costs, they are removing barriers that deter qualified nurses from other countries.

Re-registration Support for Returning New Zealand Nurses: This ensures that nurses who have practised abroad can easily reintegrate into the local healthcare system.

Coordinated Recruitment Campaign: A dedicated campaign, both national and international, is in place to attract talent.

This is complemented by dedicated immigration support services.

Training and Development: There's a significant investment in training more doctors, nurses, and radiographers.

International doctors are also provided with salaries during their induction courses and training internships.

Read more about New Zealand's initiative here.

Regular webinars, alumni events, or even structured 'return programmes' can be effective.

Beyond reaching out to professionals abroad, understanding the deeper motivations and psyche of potential recruits is essential.

This psychological perspective can often reveal insights that traditional recruitment strategies overlook.

The Psychological Aspects of Recruitment

Recruiting healthcare professionals is a nuanced process that extends beyond mere strategy and infrastructure.

It demands a deep dive into the intricate psyche of potential recruits.

Each individual stepping into the healthcare realm carries a unique blend of motivations, aspirations, and concerns that shape their career choices.

Motivations: Central to every healthcare professional's journey is an innate drive to make a tangible difference, to heal, and to uplift societal health.

A study titled "Discrete choice experiment to investigate preferences for psychological intervention in cardiac rehabilitation" by Shields et al. (2022) emphasises the significance of catering to these deeper motivations.

Institutions that resonate with and recognise this core motivation not only attract but also foster a sense of belonging among their recruits.

Aspirations: The healthcare sector is vast, offering avenues ranging from specialised medical fields to groundbreaking research opportunities.

By understanding and aligning with these aspirations, institutions can craft recruitment pitches that are not just compelling but also deeply resonant.

For instance, a cardiologist might be drawn to an institution that emphasises holistic cardiac care, integrating both medical and psychological interventions.

Concerns: The modern healthcare professional grapples with a myriad of concerns – from job security and work-life balance to continuous learning opportunities and seamless integration into new work environments.

Proactively addressing these concerns, backed by tangible policies and supportive environments, can instill confidence in potential recruits, assuring them that they are making the right choice.

Global Best Practices in Healthcare Recruitment

Different countries have approached the challenge of how to recruit healthcare professionals with varying degrees of success.

Analysing these can provide valuable insights:

Canada's Collaborative Approach:

Canada's strategy involves collaboration between governmental bodies, academic institutions, and healthcare establishments.

This integrated approach ensures streamlined processes, from education to job placement.

Health Canada's priorities for the fiscal year 2023-2024 highlight its commitment to strengthening the healthcare system, reducing health inequalities, and supporting innovation and efficiency.

With a dedicated budget and human resources, they aim to manage health risks and benefits effectively, ensuring that Canadians are well-informed and protected.

Read more from Health Canada's 2023-2024 Departmental Plan.

Australia's Rural Focus:

Australia has been proactive in addressing the rural health workforce shortage.

Since the early 2000s, both state and federal governments have implemented policies and strategies to attract health professionals to rural areas.

This includes increasing university training places, setting quotas for rural students in health courses, and offering financial incentives.

However, the challenge remains in retaining these professionals.

Personal satisfaction, life stage, and community integration play significant roles in their decisions to stay or leave rural areas.

To tackle the urban-rural divide, Australia has introduced incentives for professionals willing to serve in rural areas, ranging from financial bonuses to specialised training opportunities.

Explore the strategies to attract and retain Australia's rural health workers.

While we can glean valuable strategies from global best practices, it's equally crucial to look at the foundational role of academic institutions in shaping the future of healthcare.

The interplay between academia and healthcare establishments sets the tone for future recruitment.

The Role of Academia in Shaping the Future

Academic institutions play a pivotal role in not just educating but also shaping the aspirations of healthcare professionals:

Curriculum Evolution: Modern challenges require modern solutions.

By continuously evolving curricula to reflect current healthcare challenges, academic institutions can better prepare students for real-world scenarios.

Bridging the Gap: Collaborations between academic institutions and healthcare establishments can facilitate smoother transitions for students into the workforce.

Challenges and Innovative Solutions in Recruitment

While the journey of deciphering how to recruit healthcare professionals is laden with challenges, innovative solutions have continually emerged:

Challenge - Geographical Imbalances

Many regions, especially rural or remote ones, face severe shortages due to inequitable distribution and rapid urbanisation.

Solution: Telemedicine opportunities, rotational postings, and specialised training for remote healthcare can be potential solutions.

Engaging in public-private partnerships and leveraging digital health solutions, as recommended by the WHO, can further bridge the gap in underserved areas.

Challenge - Rapid Technological Advancements

The healthcare sector is evolving rapidly, with technological advancements at its core.

Additionally, the aging global population requires more specialised care, leading to increased demand for health professionals.

Solution: Continuous training programs and partnerships with tech firms can ensure professionals are always at the forefront of technological innovations.

Investing in health education and training institutions, as emphasised by the WHO, can produce a workforce that is fit for purpose and practice.

Challenge - Health Emergencies

Outbreaks and health emergencies strain the already limited health workforce in affected regions.

Solution: Strengthening professions like nursing and midwifery, which constitute a significant portion of the health workforce in many countries, can address this challenge.

Youth engagement in the health and social workforce ensures a sustainable workforce for the future.

Once the challenges of recruitment are addressed and professionals are onboarded, the focus shifts to integrating them into the existing system.

Successful recruitment doesn't end at hiring; it's the post-recruitment phase that determines long-term retention and productivity.

For a deeper dive into global challenges and solutions, refer to the WHO's insights on addressing the health worker shortfall.

Post-Recruitment Integration: Beyond the Hiring Process

Successfully recruiting healthcare professionals is just the beginning.

Effective integration into existing teams and systems is crucial:

Orientation Programs: Comprehensive programs that familiarise new recruits with organisational culture, processes, and expectations can set the stage for long-term success.

Mentorship: Pairing newcomers with experienced professionals can facilitate smoother integration, knowledge transfer, and faster acclimatisation to the new work environment.

Case Study: The Scandinavian Approach.

Scandinavia, encompassing countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, has long been hailed for its progressive approach to various societal challenges, and healthcare recruitment is no exception.

Prioritising Work-Life Balance

One of the hallmarks of the Scandinavian approach to work, in general, is a strong emphasis on work-life balance.

This ethos extends to the healthcare sector as well. With structured working hours, generous leave policies, and institutional respect for personal time, healthcare professionals often report higher job satisfaction levels.

This not only attracts professionals from within the countries but also becomes a significant pull for international talents.

Comprehensive Educational Programs

Scandinavian nations prioritise education, and this focus is evident in their approach to training healthcare professionals.

Medical and nursing schools in the region offer cutting-edge curricula, emphasising both theoretical knowledge and practical exposure.

This ensures that graduates are well-prepared to tackle real-world challenges, making them valuable assets to any healthcare establishment.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Healthcare institutions in Scandinavia often emphasise a collaborative approach.

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals work in cohesive teams, ensuring patient care is holistic and comprehensive.

This collaborative environment not only improves patient outcomes but also enhances job satisfaction among professionals, reducing burnout rates.

International Outreach

Recognising the global nature of healthcare challenges, Scandinavian countries have actively sought professionals from around the world.

These international recruitment drives are backed by support systems that help foreign professionals integrate seamlessly, offering language courses, cultural orientation programs, and pathways to permanent residency or citizenship.

Competitive Compensation and Benefits

While the cost of living in Scandinavian countries can be high, healthcare professionals are often compensated commensurately.

Beyond competitive salaries, professionals enjoy comprehensive benefits, including health insurance, pension plans, and opportunities for continuous learning and professional development.

Emphasis on Research and Innovation

Scandinavia has been at the forefront of medical research and innovation.

Professionals working in the region often have opportunities to engage in groundbreaking research, collaborate with top-tier institutions, and access state-of-the-art facilities.

This emphasis on innovation not only advances the medical field but also offers professionals avenues for growth and development.

Conclusion: The Scandinavian model offers a blend of personal and professional benefits, making it a benchmark in healthcare recruitment.

By understanding and emulating some of these practices, institutions worldwide can enhance their recruitment strategies, attracting top-tier talent and ensuring high-quality patient care.

The Role of a Human Capital Strategist in Refining Recruitment Strategies

While the strategies outlined above offer a roadmap on how to recruit healthcare professionals, the landscape is dynamic.

As a seasoned Human Capital Strategist, my role involves not just understanding the present but forecasting future trends.

By collaborating with me, institutions can benefit from tailored strategies, leveraging industry insights and a deep understanding of both institutional and candidate needs.

Navigating the complexities of healthcare recruitment requires a blend of experience, foresight, and adaptability – elements that I bring to the table.

Conclusion

In the quest to understand how to recruit healthcare professionals in today's world, several pivotal strategies emerge.

We began by setting the landscape, acknowledging the acute shortage predicted by the World Health Organisation and the global implications of this challenge.

From there, we delved into the multifaceted strategies crucial for effective recruitment:

Training and Education: Amplifying investments in medical training to prepare a new generation of healthcare workers.

International Collaboration: Sharing healthcare professionals among countries to bridge local gaps and enrich the global healthcare community.

Leveraging Technology: Embracing digital platforms for virtual job fairs, tele-health services, and online training to make recruitment efficient and borderless.

Branding in Healthcare Recruitment: Recognising the significant role of institutional reputation, employee testimonials, and core values in attracting potential candidates.

Mentorship and Growth: Offering growth opportunities and structured mentorship programs to appeal to professionals' aspirations.

Engaging the Diaspora: Tapping into the potential of healthcare professionals working abroad through targeted campaigns and initiatives.

Moreover, we explored the indispensable role of a Human Capital Strategist in navigating the complexities of this recruitment landscape.

By adopting a holistic, strategic approach, institutions can not only meet their immediate recruitment needs but also lay the foundation for sustained success in the future.

The journey of deciphering the recruitment of healthcare professionals might be intricate, but with collaboration, innovation, and strategic foresight, a brighter healthcare horizon awaits us all.

Looking Ahead

As we stand on the precipice of a new era in healthcare recruitment, it's crucial to confront the stark challenges that loom before us.

Will our current strategies be enough to bridge the widening gap between healthcare demand and available professionals?

Are we doing enough to adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape and harness its potential to its fullest?

How will geopolitical shifts and global events, such as pandemics and economic fluctuations, affect the migration and distribution of healthcare professionals?

While these questions might paint a seemingly grim picture, they serve as essential prompts for introspection and course correction.

It's undeniable that the journey ahead is riddled with uncertainties.

Regions, especially in rural and remote areas, still grapple with shortages.

Rapid technological advancements, although promising, come with their set of integration challenges. And the ever-evolving dynamics of the healthcare sector demand constant vigilance and adaptability.

However, every challenge also presents an opportunity.

The digital era offers us tools and platforms that can revolutionise healthcare recruitment, making it more efficient and far-reaching.

The global nature of the current challenges encourages international collaboration, fostering an exchange of ideas and best practices. As institutions, by emphasising mentorship, growth, and holistic well-being, we can create environments that not only attract but also nurture and retain healthcare professionals.

In the face of adversity, history has shown us that innovation, collaboration, and resilience prevail.

By confronting our challenges head-on, seeking expert guidance, and continually adapting, we can indeed shape a promising and robust future for healthcare recruitment.

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Healthcare Recruitment
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Paul Arnesen
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