Recruiting for Diversity: How to Build a More Diverse Healthcare Workforce

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June 07, 2023 09:14 AM (GMT-04:00)
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Top Recruiting Strategies to Improve Diversity at Your Organization

How diverse is your healthcare workforce? Do your patients have access to providers with similar backgrounds, beliefs, languages, or ethnicities? Do your employees feel your organizational culture is accepting and respectful of differences? Do you have strategies to help you build diversity within your healthcare workforce?

If you make staffing decisions for your healthcare organization, you are uniquely positioned to improve diversity within the workforce. Here are steps to build a strategic approach to recruiting for diversity.

We’ll cover:

  • Current stats on diversity in the healthcare workforce
  • The importance of increasing diversity among health workers
  • Steps you can take to recruit a more diverse workforce

Low Diversity Among Providers and an Imbalance Within the Healthcare Workforce

Much work must 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

In addition to physicians, there is a lack of diversity among other healthcare roles.

According to 2021 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) findings, the most significant lack of racial and ethnic diversity is among:

  • Advanced practice nurses
  • Dentists
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Psychologists
  • Registered nurses

Further, diversity must be balanced between higher- and lower-paying roles.

A study by Wilbur et al., published in 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.”

Greater Diversity Can Lead to Improved Health Outcomes

Employing a more diverse workforce can lead to industry-wide improvements, among them:

  • A more robust pool of candidates and improved 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.”
  • Better health outcomes among patients – The 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.”

6 Actions to Recruit for Greater Diversity Within Your Workforce

As you tailor your strategic approach to recruiting for diversity, consider these 6 actions:

  1. Include information about your organization’s commitment to diversity when you write job descriptions. Promote your goals for diversity among the overall organization, facility, division, department or team within your 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).
  2. 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 your organization 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 your organization authentically embodies these ideals rather than merely paying them lip service.
  3. Use blind recruiting practices to reduce unconscious bias. When initially screening candidates, remove any personally identifiable information, including name, gender, background, etc. and focus solely on qualifications, experience and skills.
  4. Evaluate the work experience. Ensure the advertised positions 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. 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). You can also list job openings with diverse professional organizations 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.
  6. Track diversity metrics and use data to inform recruiting decisions. Assess the current diversity of your workforce and set hiring goals to balance underrepresented groups (AORN). Monitor and track diversity during recruitment, hires and promotions at various levels of the organization. Comparing the diversity of the community to that of your organization’s workforce can help you identify gaps, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Once you’ve developed and implemented a strategy for recruiting a more diverse workforce, you’ll be better positioned to promote inclusivity, equity and culturally competent care at your organization.

Are you looking for a healthcare recruitment partner? Contact us.

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