As we prepare to celebrate National Rural Health Day on November 17, we could think of no better time to spotlight Critical Access Hospitals. They’re meeting crucial healthcare demands while navigating unique staffing challenges. At Epic Specialty Staffing, we understand that taking a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare recruitment just doesn’t work. Instead, it’s about leading with client needs, listening to candidates, and connecting healthcare facilities with the talent they need.
“When it comes to Critical Access Hospitals, we’re looking for clinical leaders who have a passion for rural healthcare,” says Joe Thomas, Epic Specialty Staffing’s Director of Business Development. “It lets me know that they have a love for healthcare and education, and they want to pass it along to the next generation.”
Epic Specialty Staffing is working hard to help clients and candidates find a perfect match within the Critical Access environment. Here’s how.
What Are the Current Challenges for Critical Access Hospitals?
Labor shortages deepened during the pandemic, and Thomas says it’s only getting worse. Licensing issues are further complicating matters.
“While it used to take candidates four or five weeks to get licensed to work in another state, it’s now taking several months due to Covid-19 delays,” he says.
Critical vacancies are widespread because of these ongoing challenges, so rural facilities need a healthcare staffing agency that’s dedicated to finding creative solutions. That’s where Epic Specialty Staffing is stepping up. For example, some clients are open to bringing on a candidate as a consultant while they’re waiting for their license to be finalized. They can carry out administrative tasks and take on a management role with the nursing staff while holding off with hands-on patient care. It’s a temporary workaround that allows them to have the leadership coverage they need. Given the candidate-dry base right now, appealing to interim candidates is proving effective.
“It’s about being proactive with finding candidates who are open to the interim opportunities,” says Thomas.
How is Epic Specialty Staffing Identifying Interim Leadership Candidates for Rural Areas?
The first question Thomas asks when getting to know a candidate is, “Why do you want to be an interim leader?” It’s a chance for them to share that they understand what it takes and what rural facilities need. For those who don’t seem ready, Thomas uses it as an opportunity to educate them a little more so they can decide if it’s the right career path for them. What he’s looking for — and what Critical Access Hospitals need — are candidates who are committed to the work and have a passion for rural healthcare. Compensation is obviously important, but it can’t be the number one driving force. What matters most is patient care.
“The other important thing we look for are leaders who are experienced working in the Critical Access Hospital arena,” says Thomas. “You’d think that running a 25-bed hospital would be much easier than running a 500-bed hospital, but it’s actually the opposite. That’s the misconception.”
Critical Access Hospitals need experienced candidates who are poised to assume a leadership position. That may sound like a tall order these days, but Epic Specialty Staffing is helping these hospitals get there. Thomas begins by being upfront about the long-term value a skilled interim candidate can bring to the table. The cost on the front end can be well worth it over the long haul, especially if a facility is in their survey window. Still, he recognizes that many rural hospitals are financially hurting.
“What we’re focused on is working with them to find the next generation of rural healthcare leaders,” says Thomas.
Epic Specialty Staffing is providing healthcare recruitment solutions designed specifically for Critical Access Hospitals. We’re here to make the journey easier for clients and candidates.