CareerSTAT Healthcare Workforce Development Academy
Beginning in November 2017, CareerSTAT brought together 11 healthcare organizations for the CareerSTAT Healthcare Workforce Development Academy. This year-long learning experience helps healthcare organizations develop more diverse talent pipelines, better retain and advance their entry-level staff, and proactively fill critical healthcare positions. An initiative of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, CareerSTAT is a network of nearly 300 healthcare professionals who are committed to advancing healthcare’s frontline workers. The Academy supports CareerSTAT’s goal to accelerate the adoption of business practices that support frontline worker education, training, and advancement. Over the coming months, we are profiling each of the Academy participants and their progress. Read profiles of other CareerSTAT Academy Members here.
Removing Financial Barriers to Good Jobs
Good jobs start with good employers, like Ascension Seton, who understand that the first step to filling positions is removing the barriers to them. Ascension Seton employs over 13,000 associates and is a significant contributor to the Central Texas economy. Ascension Seton’s goal is to connect its local community to high demand healthcare careers. However, like many healthcare organizations, they are struggling with high turnover in entry-level positions and staffing shortages for in-demand jobs. To address these challenges, Ascension Seton is looking for new ways to tap into their internal talent pool by upskilling current frontline workers.
Providing good jobs that address the needs of both workers and the organization takes a thoughtful approach. A lot of different elements go into making a good job: wages, supervision, benefits, culture. There is no “one-size-fits-all” model for healthcare employers, and it takes time and flexibility to identify the best ways to invest in the frontline workforce. But when an organization has turnover and talent pipeline issues, it just makes sense to tackle this head-on. Ascension Seton has 10-15 openings for surgical technologists each year, but very few positions are filled. So they began laying the groundwork for frontline workers to train for new roles internally.
As a CareerSTAT Academy participant, Ascension Seton realized that cost and other financial barriers may prohibit entry-level employees from gaining new skills to help them advance into in-demand positions, so they set goals to address these barriers.
For positions that require certain courses, textbooks are necessary. They’re also expensive. Ascension Seton built a lending library of mandatory textbooks, so students would have one less cost to worry about. In addition, Ascension Seton is supporting a cohort of current workers with tuition grants to train as surgical technologists. Ascension Seton has also created eight patient care technician cohorts through a successful partnership with Goodwill of Central Texas.
Ascension Seton is building the business case that more workers will further their education and develop their career within the organization if the financial burdens are reduced—they are seeing their investment pay off.
Removing barriers to training for Ascension Seton’s 7,000 frontline workers is a step toward ensuring the organization has qualified candidates to fill in-demand positions. Today, 5% of frontline associates surveyed at three hospitals have an interest in surgical technologist positions and 24% of all Ascension Seton patient care technicians are taking at least one college course per year. Those numbers are likely to increase as more patient care technicians begin using these benefits.
Building career pathways has been more challenging than expected and coordinating workforce initiatives led by various departments is not always possible. However, with multiple pipelines and partnerships built to date, Ascension Seton expects to see 25-30 more patient care technician applicants from the local community who have received training preparing for new positions within the organization. Through surveys and informational sessions, Ascension Seton has identified four to five associates who are able to start a cohort in spring 2019 and five more that will be ready by summer.