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With the U.S. unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, virtually every industry is struggling to find high-quality employees (January 2020; Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, healthcare has been especially challenging. In fact, healthcare employment needs grew 2.5% during 2019 (December 2019; Bureau of Labor Statistics). It seems that every hospital, health clinic, doctor’s office, and urgent care facility is struggling to fill jobs.

Unfortunately, this is not a recent dilemma. The workforce shortage is an issue that has long been at the forefront of the health care industry. Though leaders have been well aware of the need for qualified practitioners in coming years, solutions have been slow to come. A 2008 From the Schools of Public Health article forecasted a need for more than 250,000 new healthcare workers to meet the growing demand by 2020. In the same year, the Center for State & Local Government Excellence highlighted the workforce shortage, stating that many facilities were facing vacancy rates of up to 20%. More recent reports echo the trend. The 2017 update to an earlier report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) indicates a projected shortfall of nearly 105,000 physicians by 2030. At the same time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies would emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. Similar shortages in nursing assistants, and other specialized professionals, are creating a crisis in many areas of the country (The Atlantic, 2016 https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/02/nursing-shortage/459741/).

Challenge:  One of the country’s largest healthcare organizations − with multiple hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, and physician’s offices – came to E∙A∙S∙I−Consult® for a solution to their ongoing challenge of identifying and retaining high-quality nursing assistants. Even with a stellar reputation, this organization struggled with staffing this group of professionals.

Solution:  Meeting with nursing leadership and nursing assistants throughout the locations, along with human resources personnel, we outlined a comprehensive assessment approach that would be able to provide an efficient evaluation of each candidate’s ability to provide superior patient care, work as part of a team, while also continuing to learn and adapt as situations evolve. A three-step strategy was undertaken to bring this solution to fruition.

Step 1:  Working with key persons in nursing and patient care, including high-performing nursing assistants, we completed an analysis of this position, and detailed the key capabilities that new employees needed to possess prior to being hired. These included:

  • Knowledge of key healthcare principles,
  • Ability to effectively care for all patients, including those with a critical medical emergency along with those with chronic diseases,
  • Ability to work within the entire medical team, and
  • Ability to continually learn and adapt to the ever-changing healthcare environment.

Step 2: Utilizing the information gathered in Step 1, E∙A∙S∙I−Consult psychologists identified and developed numerous questions related to each of the four important capabilities. Once these were put into our online assessment platform, related interview questions were also programmed such that each candidate’s pattern of online answers generated specific questions to be used in a “follow-up interview.” A final review was then completed by hospital subject matter experts (SMEs).

Step 3:  Based upon the review of the SMEs, the online assessment – coupled with the follow-up interview questions – was implemented for hiring nursing assistants throughout the entire healthcare organization.

Follow-Up:  After thousands of assessments were completed, and many of the top-tier candidates were hired, E∙A∙S∙I−Consult worked with the healthcare organization to conduct a follow-up study. Specifically, the candidates who were hired as nursing assistants, and who worked for a minimum of six months, were evaluated on each of the four key capabilities that were assessed in the process, along with a couple of other key metrics. The supervisor of each of these nursing assistants completed a specially-designed evaluation form that: 1) indicated the person’s level of overall performance on the job, 2) performance in each of the four key capabilities, 3) their number of work absences, and 4) whether they still were employed by the healthcare organization.

Outcome:  The results from the follow-up study were dramatic. Candidates who scored higher on the assessment were 27% more likely to be an exceptional performer. In addition, higher scoring candidates were 40% more likely to provide exceptional patient care and 56% more likely to be an above average “team player.” Most importantly, higher-scoring candidates were 17% less likely to turnover. With these results, the organization is furthering the use of this online assessment and exploring the expansion of similar assessments to other key jobs.

Bottom-Line:  E∙A∙S∙I−Consult’s online assessment and follow-up interview process identified nursing assistant candidates that were more likely to deliver exceptional patient care, be true “team-players,” and remain in their job longer than others. For this healthcare organization, E∙A∙S∙I−Consult truly impacted Business – Driven by Science.

Dr. Joseph Gier is E.A.S.I-Consult’s® Vice President of Consulting Services. E.A.S.I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. Utilizing scientific approaches, E.A.S.I-Consult provides superior results to Business – Driven by Science. Our specialties include leadership and leadership potential assessment, online employment assessment, customized skills assessment, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E.A.S.I-Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.