The Advisory Board Company on Wednesday released a report created in conjunction with several health systems, education providers, and workforce development groups on how to increase the number of qualified entry-level candidates for health care jobs.
The report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Health Career Pathways Task Force, which is part of a larger Pathways initiative supported by the White House National Economic Council, Hope Street Group, and The Advisory Board Company. The task force aimed to address a fundamental problem in health care: the disconnect between the high demand for entry-level workers—and the scarcity of well-qualified candidates for those roles, which results in many positions going unfilled.
The task force includes 13 hospitals and health systems: Ascension Health; Banner Health; Carolinas HealthCare System; Fairview Health Services; Massachusetts General Hospital; MedStar Montgomery Medical Center; Mercy Health West Michigan, a Regional Health Ministry of Trinity Health; Norton Healthcare; NYC Health + Hospitals; SCL Health; Sutter Health; Trinity Health; and UPMC.
Based on conversations with task force members, hundreds of research interviews conducted by Advisory Board, and more than 2,000 responses from health care leaders and staff to a task force survey, the report outlined:
- Eight key lessons on integrating health care workforce planning with educational curriculum planning;
- Several employer strategies to address two common workforce challenges: a limited talent pool and an unsustainable rate of turnover among entry-level staff;
- Recommendations for scaling entry-level pathways efforts through collaborations between educators, health care employers, and policymakers; and
- Resources to assist educators, health care employers, and workforce development groups build health career pathways.
For instance, one of the lessons identified in the report is that regional workforce development efforts should not focus on emerging roles being tailored to population health models, and instead focus first on more established roles—such as medical assistants, nursing assistants, and home health aides—for which there is more predicable demand and more agreement on requisite skills. The report explains, "There is not yet consensus among employers on emerging roles needed for population health. This increases the need for close collaboration between local educators and employers when designing curriculum for new roles."
In addition, one of the hiring best practices identified and detailed in the report is to use objective hiring screens to defend against unconscious bias and avoid discounting qualified individuals.
Overall, task force members said that collaboration between educational institutions and health care providers can yield major gains for patients and providers. Advisory Board CMO Lisa Bielamowicz said, "By partnering with educators such as community colleges and high schools, health care employers are taking advantage of the education sector's strengths, which allows them to focus on delivery of high-quality care and improving patient experience."
Task force stakeholders said they hoped the report would spotlight the crucial role of entry-level workers in health care—and the opportunities such roles can create. "When people hear 'health care careers,' they often think about doctors and nurses, but health care employers need well-trained frontline staff who perform a wide range of functions that are vital to keeping the health care industry moving on a day-to-day basis," said Jennifer Stewart, an executive director for research at Advisory Board.
"These positions continue to be in high demand and can lead to fulfilling careers built on caring for others," Stewart added.
To learn more, download the Health Career Pathways Task Force Report, "Paving Health Career Pathways to the Middle Class."
You can also explore our collection of resources to start building your own health career pathways and register for our upcoming webconference series to learn more about how health care employers and educators can work together to train, recruit, and retain entry-level staff.