The Chief Nursing Officer just left for greener pastures, the Emergency Department Director resigned unexpectedly, or the most effective Unit Manager has decided to extend a family leave indefinitely. Quick, now what? Temporary help in healthcare is not a new concept. Agency, on-call, PRN (pro re nata), temp-to-hire and even travel nursing are examples. Increasingly, hospitals are recognizing the enormous potential consequences of open vacancies in C-suite or high-level management positions for significant periods of time. The solution to the concerns this raises is the use of top drawer, highly qualified interim healthcare leaders. These highly qualified and experienced leaders can effectively bridge these and other gaps in management positions by serving a variety of purposes. These include:

Avoiding Negative Consequences of Key Position Vacancies

The average hospital turnover rate is 17.2%, which is a 5% increase over the last decade. Since 2013, the average hospital has turned over 85.2% of its entire workforce across all positions. According to market analyists, only the hospitality industry has a higher turnover rate. Hospital C-suite turnover rates can be as high as 18% and turnover rates compound when key positions remain unfilled for significant periods of time. Industry experts place the average cost of turnover across all positions at approximately $60,000 although key positions may actually be higher. Factors that impact the actual cost of turnover include such things as staffing costs in terms of overtime, agency hire costs, continuity of care, training, workloads, medical staff dissatisfaction, accident rates, absenteeism as well as mentorship and professional development programs. The longer key positions remain unmanned, the more it can impact a facility’s bottom line so anything that reduces turnover is desirable. The solution is often hiring interim healthcare executives.

Buying Time to Search for a Qualified Replacement

There is generally a 4-6 month hiring process for executives, directors and managers. These positions include such roles as CEO, CFO, COO, CHRO, CMO, and CNO and departments like Behavioral Health, Critical Care, Emergency, Infection Control, Surgical Services, Pastoral Care, Information Technology and Case Management. This is by no measure a complete list. These executives and key clinicians are a critical component of the healthcare team as they are the drivers of the organization and it is vital that they are staffed. Interim Healthcare Leaders allow hospitals the opportunity to deep dive into several important questions, namely why the vacancy occurred and is the vacant position, absolutely critical? Time can be spent evaluating the position, often with valuable input from your Interim Manager for a needs/opportunity assessment of suggested changes and improvements. The permanent recruitment process can move forward without loss of function and reduced results. Sometimes an Interim Leader will also be able to convert into the permanent role.

Oversight of Complex or Technical Projects

Hospitals have discovered that the use of Interim leaders with a specific skill set can facilitate the implementation of sophisticated or difficult projects. They are in a sense ‘renting’ the expertise of these professionals for things like new Safety Programs, Quality or Infection Control programs, IT or Regulatory projects or a new financial system. Human Resource professionals have found that reorganizing a critical department after the introduction of new compensation or benefit packages is another possible use for interim healthcare leaders. Another smart use of interim leadership is the assimilation or elimination of staff after a merger or reorganization. Interim healthcare professionals with the proper credentials and a firm hand can often accomplish these transitions without the elements of resentments, push-back or past history that a permanent hire may experience. Hiring the specific knowledge of these systems can positively impact the transition experience for the hospital staff.

Tapping the services of Interim Healthcare Leaders can provide management expertise, stability, guidance, the furthering of organizational goals and improved outcomes by bridging vacancy gaps in mission critical, highly technical or specialized key positions during what is generally a lengthy permanent hire process. NHS Solutions is an Interim Healthcare Leadership specialist. Our laser focus and highly qualified pool of interim leaders means we can fill healthcare leadership gaps with a very short turn around time. Contact us to discuss any needs at your facility and we invite potential interim candidates to upload their resume for a complimentary review with our recruiting team.

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