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It’s unfortunate but true: recruiting efforts that focus on recovering from the pandemic won’t be enough to fix healthcare’s staffing issues. The talent shortage began long before COVID-19, and responding to it is more complicated than short-term recovery. For employers who aren’t already prioritizing diversity in healthcare staffing, now is the time to start. 

Diversity is vital to healthcare’s future success. Healthcare employers need to strategize to improve recruiting and retention for long-term change. Here’s why a strong diversity strategy has to be a part of that process.

Rising Above Healthcare’s Talent Shortage

We all know by now that healthcare is struggling with a serious shortage of qualified candidates. There’s a number of reasons for this. Healthcare recruiters are sometimes competing against other industries with fewer entry requirements; nurses are leaving the industry due to burnout; and the huge Baby Boomer population is aging, leading to more demand for care. Right now, almost half of all RNs are over 50, suggesting that many nurses will be retiring in coming years. 

We need to bring new people into healthcare, not just recruit the same rotation of candidates. To this effect, there is some good news. Right now, about half of all employed Americans are hoping for a career change, and around a third of that group want to completely change industries. With so many people thinking about making a career change, healthcare leaders have an amazing opportunity to promote openings and show newcomers that this industry is a space where they can grow.

To accomplish this, healthcare must find ways to appeal to a wider and more diverse group of candidates. Historically, most nurses have been women, especially white women. This trend is strong—and it’s going to take more than luck for that to change. 

Reflecting the Diversity at the Frontline

Most racial diversity in nursing is centered at the frontline. Nursing is one the most racially diverse professions in healthcare—and one of the jobs with the highest proportion of women in any industry. But this diversity isn’t reflected in management. A full 55% of healthcare system leaders are white men, which can be discouraging to the average nurse.

To encourage diversity in healthcare staffing, managers need to show candidates that they can succeed in their business. The single best way to do this is to actually promote and support the diverse staff members who already work in your business. 

When you have diversity in your leadership, you’re in a better position to connect with both new candidates and your current employees. Foster goodwill by making sure the demographics of your frontline workers are reflected in your management team.

This may also lead employees to become more comfortable sharing feedback and concerns. In turn, this will aid your retention. From a recruiting perspective, you’ll be able to clearly show potential candidates that your organization provides opportunities for promotion and growth. 

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Helping Diverse Workers Rediscover Joy In Their Work

Healthcare managers need to focus on diversifying their workforce during recruiting, but they also need to recognize that frontline workers tend to be the most racially diverse healthcare employees. Not coincidentally, BIPOC and women healthcare workers have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. As a result, these workers have suffered burnout and lost work at higher rates than white men. Understanding this is important to planning a strategy around bringing exhausted healthcare workers back into the fold.

Healing healthcare staffing depends on reenergizing diverse workers and helping them regain their passion for their work. You can help your employees remove the various obstacles that are preventing them from enjoying their work by offering flexible benefits, recognizing and applauding their work, and checking in about their professional goals and how they can reach them. Your workers have a drive and a sense of purpose. By offering them real support, you’re honoring their purpose, and making your workplace more welcoming for all workers. 

Improve Diversity in Healthcare Staffing With Apploi

Apploi is on a mission to help healthcare recruit, hire, and manage talent more successfully. We give employers more control over their brand so hiring is simple and painless for both candidates and managers.

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution. 

Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma is a Yale-educated nurse executive with 18 years of experience advocating for patients at the bedside and in the boardroom. She currently serves as the Head of Healthcare Innovation at Apploi—healthcare's leading recruitment and credentialing platform. Over the last decade, Pritma has honed her expertise as a health informaticist, building and improving electronic health records and credentialing platforms. She is the immediate former Executive Director of Electronic Quality and Safety for Alberta Health Services, the largest health system in Canada. Pritma enjoys rethinking healthcare processes to provide safer, better, and more accessible healthcare.