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Diversity On The Docket: What Does It Mean At Your Hospital?

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As our 2015 Healthcare Talent Acquisition Environmental Scan notes, “The unique diversity of a community should be reflected in the leadership and staff of its hospitals and healthcare systems.”

So, is that true for your C-Suite? According to data contained in the scan, probably not; even though in 2013 minorities represented 31 percent of patients across the nation, minorities only comprised:

  • 14 percent of hospital board members
  • 12 percent of executive leadership positions
  • 17 percent of first- and mid-level management positions

The data on minority representation in the C-Suite actually comes from a survey conducted by the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management and Health Research & Educational Trust, “Diversity and Disparities: A Benchmark Study of U.S. Hospitals in 2013,” which was published last year. In fact, this blog discussed the findings last June, and the Healthy Debate blog featured an interview with a diversity officer about her efforts to increase the diversity of her hospital’s workforce.

An interesting item of note is that although board, executive and management positions seem to be lacking in diversity, most hospitals provide diversity education. About 65 percent of respondents to the “Diversity and Disparities” survey stated that their hospital requires all employees to attend diversity training. What’s more, 86 percent of respondents said their hospital educates all clinical staff during orientation about how to address the unique cultural and linguistic factors affecting the care of diverse patients and communities.

Of course, it’s not just the C-Suite that should be diverse, and one health system has an interesting and effective approach to increasing its diversity among its staff. Scanning the experts’ insights at the end of the report, I came across a few effective approaches from Fairview Health Services’ Laura Beeth, who is Fairview’s director of talent acquisition.

Beeth says the hospital offers opportunities for its nurses to go back to school and get their BSNs and graduate nursing degrees. The hospital offers tuition reimbursement and scholarships.

Beeth also points to various programs within the neighborhoods Fairview serves, including internships, “scrubs camp” and community college fellows programs, which helps provide entry-level jobs for students while they attend school.

I really like what Beeth says in the report about the second strategy to increase diversity:

“Developing career pathway programs for our city residents allows opportunities to provide employment to diverse individuals who speak many languages and come from numerous cultures that mirror our patient population.”

Now, introducing future workers to a profession via a summer camp or a similar activity isn’t anything earth-shattering; various tech firms host mentoring sessions, day camps focused on science, etc. The second strategy, though, does something more than find the next generation of staff — it further cements the bond between a hospital and the community it serves. It bears mentioning that hospitals often serve as an economic engine in communities. According to an AHA report, hospitals are the second largest source of private sector jobs and spend more than $782 billion on goods and services from other businesses.

In both healthcare and economic development, hospitals add value to a community. When a patient can see himself or herself in the face of a doctor, nurse or other staff member, it’s a sign of an investment that’s paying dividends both now — and in that area’s future.

This post originally appeared on the Health Forum Diggin' the Data blog on April 3, 2015.