“Should we start sharing staff among agencies? It has been so hard to recruit.” Laura, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of an agency articulated these words to me, half-jokingly, referring to the challenge we all, as agencies, face in the areas of recruitment. “There is an art and science to successful recruitment and it takes more than just you as CMO, it requires the commitment of all the decision makers in the agency,” I responded. I then shared 5 key strategies for effective recruitment.
1. Establish a supportive community at your agency:
In a previous article entitled, Why SWEET Supports Social Workers and Other Health Professionals, Roger, our Editor-In-Chief, described the testimony of front line clinicians, articulating their feeling of being overworked and underpaid. We know that is only part of the equation. “Are we really making a difference? Would the poorly managed and disjointed work systems ever change? Do we need to consider a “plan B?” Will it ever be possible to take vacations and not have clients left to themselves, only to suffer setbacks?” Someone offered a solution, “Maybe we just need to keep working and think later about the repercussions of burn out.” The reflections of the clinicians were somber and offered an opportunity at the same time. An opportunity because any agency that works a bit more to create a support system for its staff will automatically increase its recruitment success exponentially.
2. Address Staff Burnout:
In the article referenced above (Why SWEET Supports Social Workers and Other Health Professionals), I explained that I have been “at both sides of the aisle,” as medical director and direct service provider. I, too, have experienced my share of burnout. I believe that clinicians need to join forces in burnout prevention. In a series of articles on Preventing Burnout and Promoting Self Care, I outlined a total of 15 reasons why addressing burnout is crucial and has a ripple effect for patients and clients, clinicians and staff, for our agencies, and the system as a whole.
“I drag myself every morning to come to work.” “This intrinsic motivation of mine started to fade away.” These statements were the experiences of Guerline and Sabrina, two clinicians illustrated in this series of articles on Preventing Burnout. Up to 67% of all mental health staff experience burnout at any one time. This is deeply troubling, as it affects all of us; and, any little effort made by any agency to help address it can be used as our second key strategy for recruiting successfully.
3. Make training available for your staff:
“After working in systems that have not prioritized supervision, mentoring, and training, and feeling and seeing the cost to myself and other social workers, I am ready now. I am ready to find my voice and advocate not just for other people, but myself as well,” said Karen, a PhD and LCSW, in our previous article entitled, Why SWEET Supports Social Workers and Other Health Professionals. The cost of a lack of training can be astronomical indeed. In addition to increasing the likelihood of burnout, it increases the risk for staff turnover; it increases liabilities, and can create a negative reputation for the agency. Making training available for staff not only reverses these outcomes, but also attracts additional clinicians who are dedicated to providing the best care possible to our patients and clients.
4. Provide opportunity for growth:
Establishing a supportive community and making training available are part of providing opportunities for growth, which also entails establishing a system for career development for our staff at our agencies. Of those currently in leadership positions, only a limited few would want to work at an agency without the perception of some of form of opportunity for growth. Asking these simple questions: What are your overall interests and what do you see yourself doing 3 or 5 years from now can be enough to start a conversation, and the related outcomes can be outstanding.
5. Promote self-care:
“This was an area of personal struggle in the early years of my career. I threw myself into the work, as many of us often do, and with that came a “full plate,” overflowing with responsibilities. And, over time it became so easy to push to the side the essential responsibility on this “plate”—self-care,” confessed Jennifer, an LCSW, in her previous article entitled, The Dual Advocate.
Many of the clinicians we recruit are driven and dedicated, and like Jennifer, they “throw themselves into the work…overflowing with responsibilities.” It then becomes our responsibility to help them remain healthy and keep a balance while doing their best for our patients and clients. Because this concept is foreign to most agencies, by promoting self-care, you are applying the fifth key strategy for a successful recruitment.
“Should we start sharing staff among agencies? It has been so hard to recruit.” Laura, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of an agency articulated these words to me, half-jokingly, referring to the challenge we all, as agencies, have been facing in the areas of recruitment. “There is an art and science to successful recruitment and it takes more than just you as CMO, it requires the commitment of all the decision makers in the agency,” I responded.
By trying these five key strategies to recruiting successfully:
Establishing a supportive community
Making training available for your staff
Providing opportunity for growth
Promoting self-care, we can convert our own staff into ambassadors, who will attract additional, like-minded individuals.
When would you like to start implementing at least one of these five key strategies? Contact us and let us know how we can he
Dr. Sidor is quadruple board certified in psychiatry, with board certification in General adult, Child and adolescent, Addiction, and Forensic, psychiatry. He also has additional training in public psychiatry, in several treatment modalities, in addition to his teaching, supervision, mentorship, coaching, and management, experience. Some of his passions are public speaking, leadership, entrepreneurship, and research, in addition to program development and project management. His overall goal is to empower all health care professionals throughout the United States and globally, towards ensuring the continuity of excellent patient care, while balancing the need to take care of themselves. Dr. Sidor is the main instructor for the SWEET Institute, and he is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is also the past-Medical Director for CASES (Center for Alternative Sentencing and employment Services), and he speaks and writes fluently in six (4) languages—French, English, Spanish, Creole, and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese and Italian.
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