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Competition for revenue cycle jobs is intense.
Making hiring qualified candidates even harder is that many health systems are seeking new graduates with specific degrees in healthcare management or administration, according to Jason Siegel, director of recruiting for healthcare revenue cycle at Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle. Systems are looking for proficiency with software like Epic, Cerner and Meditech, as well as strong math skills.
And while fresh grads don't need a STEM or math background per se, they need to be able to handle functions, measurements and calculations. Soft skills are also a plus; these include an eagerness to learn and good organizational capabilities.
"Something important to note is that employers shouldn't limit themselves in their talent search by only seeking people proficient in these softwares and with these skills," said Siegel. "Rather, employers can broaden their search by hiring more fresh grads and offering them training and development to help a non-experienced revenue cycle professional learn healthcare software."
Opportunity for growth and a healthy work-life balance are two big factors that attract new hires, and in revenue cycle, coding and billing departments have long offered things like flex time and remote work. Siegel said there's nothing preventing the replication of these elements in, say, the billing and collection departments -- and it may help build out fresh grad talent in those roles.
That may not be the best approach for temporary positions, but if an employee has the ability to develop tenure, offering remote and flex opportunities for those employees can help with retention, and attract fresh applicants.
For revenue cycle workers in particular, Siegel said it's important to provide opportunities for lateral growth -- if someone's in billing, they may benefit from the option to learn coding, and vice versa. Offering cross-training helps healthcare organizations attract top talent, as does continuing education. In fact, education is paramount in a world in which billing regulations and policies can change on an almost quarterly basis. When an employee is improperly trained and can't keep up with those changes, they're more likely to make mistakes, which can hurt their confidence. When their confidence is gone, their work may suffer, which can impair them professionally.
Unsurprisingly, many new graduates are gurus of social media, and healthcare organizations have to make their presence known on these platforms, in addition to relying on traditional methods such as job boards and networking. Social media can be a great way to get an organization's brand in front of people's eyes, including its culture and values.
Siegel encourages healthcare entities to embrace social media campaigns that promote the organization's growth and hiring initiatives. Graduates are vetting potential employers on LinkedIn and Instagram in particular.
"On these platforms, they want to see how people are being treated, what the sentiment and reputation of the organization is," said Siegel. "It's dangerous for healthcare not to be on social media. Healthcare can get a bad rep, and the first place unhappy customers and employees go to voice their dissatisfaction is social media. Being active on social media helps cut through some of that and reinforces the positive aspects of your brand's story."
Company culture is one of the most important factors graduates consider when searching for jobs. They want to work with a management team that truly cares -- that will provide support, as well as training and development. Training and development, said Siegel, is one of the best ways for employers to show their investment in their employees, as well as to help grow their confidence in the role.
"It's really important to make the distinction between perks and culture," he said. "Perks are not culture. Yes, pizza parties and summer hours are great -- employees aren't going to be mad about them. But that's not enough to attract an employee and make them stay with a company for the long term. What's going to make a fresh grad want to work at your organization, and stay at your organization, is the daily push from their managers, encouragement and investment in their success, and having their ideas listened to. Culture is about embracing staff and having transparency so people know where things stand and trust each other. Trust is extremely important to this generation, so a culture of honesty is going to be a key way to get through to them."
Ultimately, from the outside looking in, mergers and acquisitions can appear to make healthcare an unstable industry -- which Siegel said isn't the case. Technology may be eliminating certain administrative tasks, but there's still a need for billing and coding professionals, and always will be. Employers should address graduates' potential insecurity head-on by assuring them that healthcare is still an attractive industry.
They can do so, said Siegel, by highlighting their differentiators, whether it be an exceptional culture, growth trajectories for other employees and any new technologies the organization may boast.
"Revenue cycle is an ever-changing industry," he said. "It can look unstable on the outside, but it's not. It's constant and it's not going anywhere. It's a great industry for fresh grads to go into, with opportunities for them to improve technology skills, achieve management opportunities, and more."