5 Actions Leaders Can Take to Recruit a More Diverse Healthcare Workforce
Leaders can help improve diversity within their organizations and the healthcare workforce with a strategic approach to recruiting. Here’s a look at:
- Current diversity among healthcare employees
- The importance of increasing diversity among health workers
- Steps organizations can take to recruit for a more diverse workforce
A Lack of Diversity Among Providers and an Imbalance Within the Healthcare Workforce
Recent research shows there’s still much work to be done to improve racial, ethnic and gender diversity among physicians. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that in 2018, among active physicians:
- 56.2% identified as White, 17.1% as Asian, 5.8% as Hispanic, and 5.0% as Black or African American
- 64.1% identified as male and 35.8% as female
There is also a need to improve diversity within other healthcare roles. According to 2021 AHRQ findings, the most significant lack of racial and ethnic diversity is among:
- Advanced practice nurses
- Emergency medical technicians
- Physician assistants
- Registered nurses
Further, there is a need to balance diversity between higher- and lower-paying roles. A study by Wilbur et al., published in the Health Professions Education journal, reported that “overall, the healthcare workforce is becoming more diverse however, with the majority of people of color in healthcare jobs remaining in entry-level and often lower paying jobs.”
Increased Diversity Can Lead to Improved Health Outcomes
Employing a more diverse workforce can lead to a whole host of improvements, among them:
- A stronger pool of candidates and better retention of employees – Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) reports, “Investing in diverse talent, and demonstrating your commitment to do so, can attract more candidates. Implementing diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) training can build trust and morale among staff, improving retention rates.”
- Improved health outcomes among patients – The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) 2021 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report says, “Lack of racial, ethnic, and gender concordance between providers and patients can lead to miscommunication, stereotyping, and stigma, and, ultimately, suboptimal healthcare…A racially and ethnically diverse health workforce has been shown to promote better access and healthcare for underserved populations and to better meet the health needs of an increasingly diverse population.”
5 Ways to Recruit for Greater Diversity Within the Workforce
- 1. Use data to inform recruiting decisions. To begin, leaders can assess the current diversity of their workforce and set hiring goals to balance underrepresented groups (AORN). Leaders can monitor and track diversity during recruitment and within various levels of the organization. Comparing the diversity of the community to that of the organization’s workforce can help leaders identify gaps (American Hospital Association).
- 2. Let candidates know about the organization’s commitment to diversity in the job descriptions. Organizations can promote their DEI statements and diversity goals of the overall facility, division, department or team within job descriptions. The job description should also include any relevant details about opportunities to work with diverse, underrepresented or underserved patient populations (Emory Department of Medicine).
- 3. Embrace diversity within your organization and integrate diversity into your branding. Organizations with a culture that embraces diversity are more likely to attract diverse candidates. It will help applicants to see that the organizaiton has dedicated a portion of the website to DEI and that there is diversity in your marketing and social media campaigns (AORN). However, it’s critical that organization authentically embodies these ideals rather than merely pays them lip service.
- 4. Evaluate the work experience. Ensure the positions you are advertising meet the needs of and are attractive to a diverse group of candidates. Are salaries equitable? Are applicants and employees evaluated objectively? Is your work environment welcoming and safe? Are there opportunities for inclusion (such as mentoring and diversity within teams)? Do all employees have equal opportunities for recognition and career growth? Is there diversity among your board, executive team, management, providers, allied health professionals and support staff? Do you have a DEI champion, committee and program? (Emory).
- 5. Seek out new recruitment avenues. Recruiters can break old habits, get creative, generate new contacts and branch out to find more diverse candidates. Partnering with diversity organizations, attending diversity recruiting fairs, and participating in diversity initiatives in the community can help (AORN). Recruiters can also list job openings with diverse professional organizations, expand their current network and contacts, and attend events sponsored by entities that serve underrepresented patients (Emory). Further, to support the future healthcare workforce and to build a pipeline of diverse candidates, partner with non-profit, academic and government initiatives that support diversity in healthcare training and medical education.
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