4 Ways to Build Your Talent Pipeline

4 Ways to Build Your Talent Pipeline. The final pipe in a Talent pipeline is craned into place.

Clinical and nonclinical staffing remains a top concern for health care leaders. To grow and retain their workforce, hospitals and health systems need to pursue a multipronged approach, notes the AHA’s recently released 2024 Health Care Workforce Scan.

This should encompass:

  • Recruiting innovatively for clinical and nonclinical positions.
  • Improving training and supporting practice readiness.
  • Expanding career pathways.
  • Building workforce diversity.

4 Innovative Ways to Strengthen the Talent Pipeline

Here are some of the innovative ways AHA members are executing a broad spectrum of strategies.

1 | Partner Productively

Baltimore County, University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center (UMSJMC) and Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) have partnered to connect residents in historically underserved communities with high-demand nursing positions through customized educational programming and community wraparound support.

The Public Health Pathways Program pilot, launched this past summer, provides 30 scholarships that cover the cost of tuition and educational fees for the CCBC Certified Nursing Assistants program. Participants also receive a $1,000 monthly stipend, which they can use to supplement wages, support transportation or housing needs, pay for child care or overcome other work-related barriers.

Once students graduate from the certified nursing assistant program, UMSJMC will offer guaranteed employment with full benefits so they can continue their education in a licensed practical nursing program toward becoming an LPN. This segment includes four months of prerequisites and 16 months of LPN education. In addition, CCBC and UMSJMC will provide mentorship, tutoring and support for all participants.

2 | Reconfigure Clinical Training

A shortage of nurse preceptors is plaguing hospitals, exacerbating the challenge of onboarding new nurses. Investing in nursing educational leadership roles can supplement nursing school faculty along with strengthening the preceptor ranks. For example, Novant Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has implemented a clinical teaching associate program that allows its nurses to serve as adjunct faculty for colleges seeking to expand clinical groups or class sizes.

The University of Maryland Medical System’s (UMMS) new Academy of Clinical Essentials (ACE) initiative moves even further out of the box. Piloted in April 2022, the academic practice partnership model pairs four nursing students with a UMMS-funded clinical nurse for a weekly 12-hour shift at the bedside. ACE provides a realistic clinical experience, allowing them to be immersed in all aspects of care and be accountable for patients. The program includes students from five schools in 50 cohorts across the system’s 11 hospitals.

ACE not only supports a robust recruitment pipeline, and student-to-qualified nurse pathway, it also bolsters the nurse educator ranks by offering registered nurses the best of both worlds. They can serve as clinical instructors while continuing to practice in the hospital, earning a premium when they handle ACE shifts.

3 | Go Mobile

Old Dominion University’s School of Nursing believes it makes sense to tackle two challenges with a single entrepreneurial solution. In rural communities like theirs (Southampton County, Virginia), high unemployment and poverty levels, transportation challenges and limited health care access create health disparities. This challenge is compounded by a shortage of health care preceptors, which makes it difficult for aspiring nurses to gain necessary clinical rotation experience.

Old Dominion customized a van to create a mobile health clinic, providing an opportunity for advanced practice students to work with interprofessional faculty nurse practitioner teams to bring care directly to residents. The students and faculty provide mental health, physical therapy, athletic training, dental hygiene, speech and human services. They also can draw blood and conduct testing, offer women’s health care and incorporate telehealth to connect with specialists, and monitor patients with chronic conditions.

In addition to providing high-quality medical care and building their own preceptor infrastructure, Old Dominion hopes the mobile unit experience will inspire nursing students to stay in the community to practice.

4 | Purposefully Engage Teens

Grady Health in Atlanta, the country’s fifth largest public hospital, received so many applicants for its new Teen Experience and Leadership Program that it had to turn hundreds away. The 236 high school students selected for the inaugural program this summer had the opportunity to shadow professionals in the hospital in four-hour shifts. Shifts were offered throughout the day, seven days a week, to accommodate a variety of student schedules.

Program participants — who came from a wide range of public, private and charter schools, as well as homeschooling families across metro Atlanta — could choose to rotate through units ranging from clinical to human resources, finance, legal compliance and other administrative departments. Staff were excited to have people to teach and expose to health care.

The program surpassed the organization’s expectations in several ways. Students not only were given a hands-on look at multiple health care career opportunities, but they also cultivated compassion for patients and deepened their understanding of Grady’s role in caring for community members. They often built friendships with peers different from themselves, and benefited from staff mentors willing to take them under their wings and provide life, school and career advice.

Download the 2024 Health Care Workforce Scan »

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