Term Paper: Healthcare Industry in the U.S

Pages: 15 (3973 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] It is therefore vital for healthcare organizations to develop guidelines on how to retain employees, which for example, would give some measurement to how effectively the core values and mission statement of the organization (in terms of staff retention) are being implemented, in terms of human resource policies, programs, managers behaviors, policies, procedures, etc. (www.chausa.org).Such guidelines, which could be called 'values-based human resource guidelines', would also address such issues as orientation of human resource personnel, benefit levels and eligibility, and also the ways in which the organization could help employees to balance work and family life (www.chausa.org).With values-based human resource practices, as evidenced in the workplace, it is known that employees tend to be more fulfilled professionally and less likely to leave for a position elsewhere (www.chausa.org).

The survey undertaken by the ACHE (entitled Healthcare @ Work) outlined three key areas which leaders of the healthcare organizations needed to take on board, in order to help with retaining staff: attracting, developing and retaining (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).

Under 'attracting', the survey noted that over half of the Healthcare @ Work respondents had considered pursuing a job in the healthcare field prior to high school graduation, and that most of these cite "a desire to help people" as their primary motivator (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).The passion to provide service to others, however, is soon overshadowed, in practice, by the reality of the burdens of policy, paperwork, lack of resources and overall poor workplace environment, as shown in the survey, as we have seen, which showed that employees are looking elsewhere, as 49% are considering leaving their current organization (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).To attract new employees, therefore, healthcare organizations must reinvent the healthcare workplace to enable caregivers to answer their calling: caring for patients (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).

Under 'developing', the 'Healthcare @ Work' survey, and the AHA Commission on Workforce for Hospitals and Health Systems in their report, 'In Our Hands' both identified eleven key middle management competencies (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).In Healthcare @Work, it was discovered that the majority of employees feel their leaders do not exhibit those eleven competencies, and in fact, employees lack confidence in leadership, as 51% of respondents said that their organization is not doing a good job in developing effective supervisors and 36% said they do not have faith in leadership to do what is right (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).Healthcare organizations must therefore develop leadership with the skills necessary to motivate a workforce and manage the organization (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).

Under 'retention', the survey concluded that retention is the key to success in an environment riddled with shortages in just about all allied healthcare professions (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).Yet, increased turnover is looming, as most employees do not feel affiliated with their organization, as we have seen (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).In fact, 49% of respondents say their managers fail to involve them in planning changes, and 49% feel their organizations fail to demonstrate the importance of retaining employees (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).

Over time, organizations must learn how to retain workers of all ages and skill levels, but to address the short-term crisis, older workers must also be a key focus for retention: as, as we have seen, the majority of the workforce in the healthcare field is of an average age of 40-45 years old (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).Older workers therefore comprise the largest segment of the healthcare employee population, and also have the greatest level of experience to draw upon, and therefore should be encouraged to stay with an organization as long as possible (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).For this approach to be successful, alongside managerial changes from the top-down via middle management, it is imperative that healthcare organizations redesign the physically demanding healthcare process currently in place, for example, extraordinarily long shifts, compulsory overtime etc. (www.healthcarepersonnel.org).

One factor that also needs to be considered with regards to the retention of healthcare workers is the salary levels that are currently in place for such workers, as all employers rely on wage and benefit offers to draw and retain willing and qualified employees (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).Comparisons can be made between the wages of two healthcare occupations with two other occupations that have similar job vacancy rates and educational requirements, in order to examine the appropriateness of the pay level for healthcare workers (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).Comparing occupations with similar job vacancy rates ensures that the demand for workers is the same, and likewise, identical educational requirements guarantee that similar training was needed to become qualified for this job (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants are therefore compared to hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists, as many of the job vacancies in these occupations require a vocational degree or certificate (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).The wages offered in these occupations are also very similar: with nursing aides receiving a median (50th percentile) wage of $9.25 per hour, and hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists receiving $9.00 (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

RNs are compared to substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, which have a job vacancy rate of 7.0%, and all of which require post-secondary education (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).RNs are offered a median wage of $18.25 an hour, while substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are offered $15.00: a difference in median wage rates of over $3 an hour (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

This comparison reveals, therefore, that healthcare occupations may already be offering a higher starting wage rate compared to other occupations with similar educational requirements; likewise, these healthcare positions are offering a higher wage compared to other occupations with the same or similar job vacancy rates (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).So, even with a similar demand for workers, some healthcare positions are offering a relatively higher starting wage, perhaps due to stressful job duties, as no-one would argue that a nursing aide has duties that require more physical stamina than those of a hairdresser (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

It should be noted, then by healthcare executives, that although wages may be used as a tool to attract new interest, unless they are bumped up enough to allow supply to meet demand, increasing wages alone may not be enough on its own to encourage new entries into healthcare (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).In addition to higher wages, 90% of full-time healthcare vacancies offered health insurance and paid vacation according to the survey, and eight out of 10 employers with full-time healthcare vacancies offered retirement benefits and paid sick leave: thus, these 'added extras' come as standard with such posts, and as such cannot be used as 'carrot and the stick' type enticements: healthcare workers, who go into the profession from a caring point-of-view, need more than wages and benefits to entice them to work in a really stressful profession: they want tangible, emotional, benefits: a good working environment, supportive middle managers and colleagues etc. (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

As we have seen, there is no denying that healthcare workers are and will continue to be needed in the U.S.: in 2000, about 35 million people -- " 13% of the U.S. population -- " were aged 65 or older, and by 2030, this number is expected to increase to 70 million, or 20% of the U.S. population (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

Disease management and general health issues have become constant front-page news, with people joining health clubs and trying to watch their diets (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).Advances in technology have improved patient care and increased consumer confidence in medical facilities, and all of this has contributed to a growing demand for health services and workers (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

Yet, with the current worker shortage in healthcare showing few signs of coming to an end, what can be done (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html)?It has been said that, "The problem is so big that nobody is spearheading the whole effort to address it. And simple solutions are not what they seem.... It is not as easy as training more workers. The number of openings in educational programs has to be increased, which relates to funding. And the number of students wanting to enter healthcare has to be increased. It is complex and will take a multifaceted approach (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html)."

Many have called for an increase in the number of openings in educational programs, such as curriculum changes in K-12 schools and an emphasis on outreach to potential students, which could help generate interest in the field: in addition, more comprehensive scholarships and shorter, more flexible training programs may help encourage new entries into healthcare (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

Regardless of the method, it is clear that a way to generate fresh interest in the healthcare field must be found -- " and soon, and on top of this, as we have seen, and discussed in detail, ways must be found, incorporating better top-down management practices, to retain valuable healthcare workers once they have been recruited (www.mnwfc.org/lmi/trends/jun01/heal3.html).

Another suggestion put forward to solve the problem of retention of healthcare workers is to relax visa regulations for healthcare workers from abroad, and to offer these people (from all around the world) the chance of living in "the land of the free" in exchange for dedication in the workplace. It is believed that these foreign healthcare workers work harder than 'home' workers, and are also… [END OF PREVIEW]

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