Healthcare, as an industry, is sort of the antithesis of recruiting – as a profession, healthcare practitioners are treated with innate respect and inherent trust, and their expertise or judgement goes unquestioned – we literally put our lives in their hands.
While work directly impacts our quality of life, the work of those working in healthcare is literally a matter of life and death. Which means, of course, that those of us recruiting healthcare professionals serve a profoundly important purpose.
Ask any medical professional why they chose their career path, and almost without exception, you’ll get an origin story far different than recruiters; their calling came as a result of a deliberate choice and years of dedicated preparation. Unlike talent acquisition, these careers aren’t the result of some existential accident, and there are certainly barriers to entry, barriers that keep all but the most dedicated and driven people from being able to deliver the quality of care required for the most critical of roles.
The Current State of Healthcare Recruitment.
The origin story of healthcare practitioners, from doctors to nurses to therapists, are as unique as the professionals giving their lives to save the lives of others. All were inspired to pursue healthcare because of a profoundly personal experience: an early childhood disease, perhaps, or a relative or sibling forced to live with a congenital defect or condition. In short, someone they knew, likely, faced a life-altering disease or injury that, for whatever reason, inspired that individual to aspire to make a difference and dedicate themselves to a career in healthcare.
While we make cold calls, this kind of calling doesn’t happen very often in other industries. That’s not to say, of course, that everyone else’s professional passions are accidental or happenstance. At this very moment, there could be someone who decides to get into recruiting because they realize that they’d be better at filling jobs than subjecting themselves to the experience of looking for jobs, or someone who direct sourced that impossible hire and got just enough of a rush from closing that req to get hooked on recruitment for life.
But, let’s face it – that’s probably a stretch, and more anecdotal than actually reflective of recruiting reality. Our industry, or most every other segment of the workforce, from marketing to construction to finance, chose our particular paths precisely because it was something we were good enough at to make a good living. Our job choices are made largely not because of passion (that often manifests itself a little later on) but because of pragmatism.
And let’s face it, being a hypocrite (an epidemic of sorts within the ranks of the rank and file) is far easier than living by the Hippocratic oath. Helping ourselves is easier than helping others, and therefore, there’s a certain degree of solipsism required for survival – which is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Literally.
Healthcare Recruitment: Growing Demand, Dwindling Supply.
The impact of the Affordable Care Act has been pretty well documented within the HR industry, but the provision of universal coverage, coupled with increasing costs and average life expectancy, have created a perfect storm for healthcare, and demand is only projected to continue rising for the foreseeable future. But just because legislation and demographics have increased access to healthcare services, it hasn’t increased the number of professionals responsible for providing those services – that number, in fact, has remained more or less stagnant, creating a skills gap that makes those famously faced by the tech sector seem pretty manageable by comparison.
In fact, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States faces an emergency that, if left untreated, could become a pervasive and persistent pandemic. The association predicts that by 2020, the US will face a shortage of 90,000 physicians, and 130,000 by 2025. Coupled with the fact that physicians are being actively courted by the private sector (think pharma, biotech, medical devices) and have the pick of more professional paths not involving primary patient care than ever before, if we don’t find a cure to this disorder now, we’re screwed, societally speaking.