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Four years ago, Christiana Care Health System had a big problem: In order to meet new coding requirements for its Health Information Management Systems (HIMS), they would need to hire a batch of coders, but the talent pool had run dry — the new requirements meant that every healthcare system needed to hire coders.
“They’re so in demand,” said Pamela Ridgeway, VP of talent acquisition for Christiana Care. “When the market doesn’t bear what you’re looking for, you have to be creative.”
What Christiana Care did have was a large number of existing employees, many of whom were in low-level positions that potentially left little room to grow long-term, such as environmental services and food & nutrition services.
“We created a program that actually allowed our internal staff to go into becoming coders,” said Ridgeway. “For nine months, they left their jobs and took a training job title. They took classes provided by an outside agency. And when they were finished, they sat for the test that we paid for, became certified, and went straight into a new job.”
The HIMS training program has had two cycles so far, and will be utilized to update the coders’ skills as needed. As for retention? After being trained by the company and put into tech jobs, employees tend to be loyal. “We never have an issue retaining them,” Ridgeway said.
All Christiana Care employees, whether they work in direct healthcare, tech or service, are eligible for tuition reimbursement. For employees in the clinical area, there are multiple ways to track upward.
“Our registered nurses, for example, have a lattice program we developed 8-10 years ago where they can move between [levels of] an RN 1 to an RN 4,” said Ridgeway. “Everybody doesn’t necessarily want to go into leadership, so this opened up a space for them to stay within what they’re interested in, but still grow within the organization.”
Another perk for nurses? They can come in with a relatively low-cost associates’ degree, and have their bachelor’s degree paid for.
“We have a pre-paid program where you’re able to go to one of five schools and become a bachelor’s degree-prepared nurse,” Ridgeway said. “We understand that that’s important when people come in, because they’re not looking just to come in and stay where they are. They’re looking for growth opportunities.”
Other career trajectory offerings include:
- Education. The cost of annual/biannual education credits for providers (physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants) is covered by the company. “The more that they’re prepared and up to date, the better is it not only for them but for the organization and our patients as well.”
- Employee Research Groups. “They are bringing in some great speakers. It’s not about talking about how this job is now open for you, it’s about how do you lean in to the grey area, how do you navigate different spaces? They’re really giving them tools for their toolbox. How do you take what you know and move to the next level?”
- Diamond Leadership. “Our executives are actually the instructors for each of the sections, and they really cover a lot of what it looks like to operate a strong business unit or a strong department. The idea of taking executives from the day to day to bring in really helps people to be able to see.”
Christana Care currently has over 200 job openings, in all categories. Click here to see listings.
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