As a recruiter in the healthcare industry, you will face a unique set of challenges when trying to source and hire allied health professionals. Healthcare recruiting can be difficult, from finding suitable candidates in a competitive labor market to ensuring that all necessary qualifications are met.
But with the right strategies and tools, it’s possible to overcome these hurdles and successfully find qualified prospects to overcome the talent shortage in allied health professions.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the common challenges healthcare recruiters face when sourcing allied health workers and provide tips on to address them.
Shortage of Allied Health Professionals
It’s no secret that the United States is in the middle of a massive healthcare labor shortage exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2023, the U.S. still struggles to fill much-needed positions that include physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals.
Although the climax of the pandemic is behind us (hopefully), many facilities still feel the long-lasting effects of the healthcare shortage. There could be a shortage of over 4 million healthcare workers by 2026, many of which are in allied health professions.
According to an AMN Survey, the most in-demand allied health positions are radiologic technologists, physical therapists, laboratory technicians, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists. This same survey found that 85% of healthcare facilities face shortages of allied health positions across the board. All of these factors make recruiting allied health professionals difficult for multiple reasons, such as:
Increasing Worker Demands
Surprisingly, the healthcare sector saw smaller average wage increases during the first 15 months of the pandemic compared to other U.S. industries. This shows that the healthcare industry was severely behind in adjusting compensation, which may have worsened the current healthcare labor shortage.
As staffing needs increase and the number of available allied health professionals decreases, the power of supply and demand will continue to shift from healthcare organizations and recruiters into the hands of the remaining healthcare workers.
As a recruiter, you’ll have to find a way to match candidates’ salary demands with limited resources. If increasing salary/pay is not an option, consider using some hiring incentives to bridge the gap.
Lack of Qualified Candidates
The AMN Survey revealed that most healthcare facilities have trouble finding qualified candidates for allied health positions. This could be because many professions require specialized, hard-to-find certifications and credentials.
New NHA research found that 52% of healthcare employers said their certified allied health employees must develop their clinical skills further. While many healthcare organizations have continuing education and mentorship programs to help prepare underqualified professionals, there is still a growing need for allied health professionals with the qualifications and experience to perform well.
You’ll need to prioritize finding and recruiting professionals with the necessary qualifications and skills for the job — through targeted marketing or leveraging an allied health job board. Remember that talent gets hired quickly in a labor shortage, so you’ll want to do everything you can to source and hire qualified allied health workers before another recruiter swoops them up!
Recruiting to Rural Areas
Some areas throughout the United States lack enough nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals to serve their communities. Additionally, there are not enough allied healthcare providers to provide patient care to the aging population in these areas.
Healthcare is always in high demand, but some counties in rural states do not have the resources to fill open positions. This is why urban healthcare recruitment is such a challenge.
When recruiting for these hard-to-fill positions, you must leverage everything rural living offers to attract new talent. If you are recruiting for traveling positions, market these locations as great places to escape from the hustle and bustle of city living. For permanent positions, you can mention that living in rural communities is often less expensive and less stressful.
Additionally, there’s a chance that the healthcare organization you recruit for will have some form of loan repayment for healthcare workers in rural areas for permanent healthcare workers. Use this as an incentive to expand your talent pool by attracting new graduates.
When recruiting for a position in a rural area, consider using remote interviewing platforms like Zoom or Skype and then schedule an onsite visit (if necessary) after the initial interview. Additionally, you can use targeted marketing to reach prospects who may be unaware of current job opportunities in rural facilities.
Lengthy Recruiting and Screening Process
The recruiting and screening process for allied health professionals is typically lengthy and tedious. This is because you’ll need to check each candidate’s numerous certifications, qualifications, educational backgrounds, and credentials. Screening for healthcare professionals will typically include the following:
- Controlled Substance Screenings
- Fraud and Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) Check
- General Services Administration (GSA) Check
- Credential Screenings
- Vaccine Checks
Keep in mind that each allied health career may have unique screening requirements.
The entire recruiting process can become lengthy for full-time allied health positions, leading to a longer average time to hire. Traveling jobs tend to go a bit quicker, but recruiters for traveling healthcare positions are responsible to fill more positions on a revolving basis. Regardless, you’ll spend plenty of time going through the screening procedures with potential workers.
To streamline the process and find qualified allied health job-seekers quickly, you can use an applicant tracking system (ATS).
While there are many benefits to recruiting within the healthcare industry, the sheer amount of screening and credentialing is enough to drive anyone insane. It may be a headache for recruiters and workers alike; however, these steps are critical to ensure you only hire legitimate allied health professionals and weed out illegitimate prospects.
Fake candidates are a growing problem in the healthcare industry. Recruiters must be aware of fraudulent applicants who may provide false credentials or inaccurate qualifications. To protect yourself and your clients, you must be vigilant in verifying each candidate’s credentials — such as licenses, certifications, degrees, etc.
Another way to detect fake prospects requires a video or in-person interview with each applicant. You can use the interview process to assess the candidate’s qualifications and verify that they are who they say they are.
Before you hire an allied health professional, look for all the signs that they may be a fake candidate. Doing so may add some extra steps to your process, but you’ll save yourself from a lot of trouble in the long term.
As a recruiter, you may run into different types of candidates ghosting you. They can “go ghost” at any stage of the recruiting process, even after they are officially hired.
It’s easy to blame the candidates for their lack of follow-through, especially if you invested a lot of time recruiting them. The reality is that frequent ghosting indicates that you’ve lost them somewhere in your recruiting process.
Thankfully, there are some ways to reduce ghosting. Make sure to establish clear expectations with candidates from the start. Let them know what kind of communication they should expect from you — such as a timeline of when they should expect to hear back from you — and what type of communication is expected in return.
You also need to work with healthcare facilities to streamline the candidate experience. A recent study found that 75% of professionals working in their companies were influenced to accept the job offer because of the positive candidate experience. By keeping your candidates engaged throughout the recruitment process and providing a great experience, you can limit the number of “ghosts” in your pipeline.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to prioritize diversity and inclusion when recruiting new healthcare professionals. There’s an increased demand for diverse voices in the healthcare industry, particularly among marginalized communities.
Unfortunately, our current workforce of allied health professionals lacks the increases in diversity that can be seen throughout other industries. For example, the ASHA shows that African Americans represent less than 5% of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists. Fixing this lack of representation is a challenge that starts with training and recruiting diverse allied health workers.
Search for qualified professionals from underrepresented backgrounds. Be careful of your unconscious biases about what a candidate should look like.
In addition to recruiting diverse candidates, ask all your potential leads questions about their approach to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. You may also want to ask them about their experience working with different cultures or backgrounds.
By taking these extra steps, you’re helping ensure your process is as inclusive as possible. Additionally, by considering diverse candidates and promoting an inclusive workplace, you’ll help your clients achieve their goals of providing quality healthcare to a more diverse population.
Rejection and Burnout
No matter how much you prepare, rejections will be inevitable in your role as an allied health recruiter. Not every candidate will be the right fit for the job, and it’s important to remain professional even when communicating bad news.
It can also be easy to get burnt out from constant rejection. You may find yourself reaching out to dozens of job seekers only to be met with silence. It’s necessary to take some time to step back and reset. Delegate tasks where you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.
Additionally, focus on what is within your control. You can ensure the process runs smoothly by optimizing your organization and consistently communicating with candidates. Further, practice responding to common candidate objections so you can stay prepared. Handling these objections correctly can be the difference between rejection and success.
Taking care of yourself is also key: Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and give yourself time to relax. The better you feel, the more you can handle the stressors that come with your occupation.
Conquer Recruiting Challenges with Online Tools
Recruiting challenges can become overwhelming, but remember that you are not the only person out there struggling with things like ghosting, labor shortages, and fake leads.
Luckily, online tools can help make the recruitment process more manageable. Plenty of recruiting platforms can help you to automate repetitious tasks such as sorting applications and scheduling interviews.
In addition, some great job board services work with recruiters to help find the best candidates for your needs. For example, AlliedTravelCareers.com can help you address some of your challenges by making sure the right audience sees your job postings.
With the right approach and the right tools, you’ll be able to tackle any recruiting challenge that comes your way.