Successful Recruitment Requires Ongoing Effort

By Melanie Larson, Director of Human Resources

Recruiting and retaining employees is challenging in any industry – probably none more so than healthcare. This only gets more difficult the more specialized the healthcare professional. To succeed, you need to have an ongoing recruitment and retention program. That’s one of the main reasons hospitals and surgeons value their partnership with AP Health.

At AP Health, we recruit advanced practitioners – typically Nurse Practitioners and Physician Associates – to serve as surgical assistants for our hospital and surgeon customers. It’s our focus as a company and as a result, we have a successful ongoing recruitment program. On any given day, we’re actively recruiting for five positions – I’m currently recruiting for eight. When hospitals try to hire for similar positions in-house, they only do so when there is a need. It’s inefficient and fraught with delays because they hire for a variety of positions throughout the hospital and are not laser-focused on advanced practitioners like we are. We recruit surgical staff every day and have systems in place to get them credentialed and working in the OR quickly.

We hire for a variety of surgical specialties, including orthopedics, ob/gyn and cardiothoracic. In some situations, we hire recent graduates and train them ourselves. For others, we hire practitioners with more than 10 years of experience in the OR. Our recruitment efforts include typical outreach opportunities through associations and social channels like LinkedIn. We also have an employee referral program which offers bonuses to employees who refer someone who we end up hiring.

Our hospital and surgeon customers appreciate that we take on all aspects of surgical staffing – not just recruiting, but also credentialing, schedule management, billing and retention. This frees them of administrative and management duties and allows us to provide surgeons with qualified surgical staff wherever they operate. If they are operating one day in a hospital and two others at an ambulatory surgery center, we can provide them with a consistent staff who knows their style and surgical preferences.

Our business is based on our providing highly qualified, efficient and consistent staffing for the OR, so retention is critical. That’s one of the reasons we are an employee-owned company. We also support practitioners who want to add or change surgical specialties with training programs. I think the biggest factor driving our retention is our focus on work-life balance. If someone has a surgical case that runs late, we’ll work to flex them out the following day. Or if they have a family obligation come up, we’ll work with them to find someone to fill in for them. We can do this because we have a deep bench of practitioners and can move them around to address not just our customers’ changing needs, but our employees’ needs, as well. If that same practitioner worked on staff at a hospital, they’d still have to come in and work their schedule or take call because there’s no one else to take their place.

In the end, I think to be successful at recruiting and retention – particularly in a field like ours, it has to be a program that you focus on every day. You can’t turn it on and off when the need arises. We’ve been successful recruiting and retaining staff in a highly specialized area of healthcare because that’s our focus. And that’s why hospitals hire us and why doctors want to bring us along when they start operating in new ORs.