How To Retain Talent At Your FQHC

Nov 08, 2021

Hospitals struggle to retain healthcare providers. Federally Qualified Health Centers struggle even more to retain talent. With some of the fullest hospital beds and the smallest support staff, physicians at FQHCs are 11% more likely to experience burnout. As a recruiter at one of these health centers, you may feel your hands are tied. You can’t offer a higher salary, and student loan repayment only keeps providers around while they have student loans. 

So what actions can FQHCs take to encourage provider retention? We’ve compiled a few changes you can make when hiring, during employment, and near the end of contract that will increase retention and lower recruiting costs.

During Hiring: Peer Interview New Hires

You’re familiar with the importance of finding employees who are a cultural fit for your organization. But what exactly does that mean? Organizational culture can change across departments. Including top department performers in the interview process helps you make a more educated hiring decision. An added bonus—you’ll gain insights during this stage that will help you when hiring for future openings. 

The benefits of peer interviewing extend beyond retention. Teams with a strong bond are more productive. In fact, over half of one survey’s respondents said having a “best friend” at work increased productivity and creativity. Another survey reported 62% of respondents with one to five friends at work said they would reject a job offer. Create a team of providers who want to work together, and you’ll only strengthen your facility. 

During Employment: Growth Within the Organization

FQHCs have a reputation for being more stressful for providers than other organizations. But just how much more stressful is an FQHC than other hospitals? Healthcare professionals face stress levels 25.8% higher than other professions. It isn’t a question of your facility being stressful, but how your facility manages and prevents burnout. Consider creating a system of internal movement within your organization.

A study of 250,000 RNs showed that nurses under 30 are more likely to want to leave their unit than their organization. Reflect on your departments with the highest turnover. For nurses, behavioral health, step down/PCU, and the ER have the highest turnover rates. Reflect on the departments at your facility and determine if there’s room for lateral movement among providers. Periodically changing the environment (within your hospital) and adjusting the stress level can make the difference between keeping your floor staffed and spending unnecessary money on recruiting.

End of Contract: Retention Bonuses

Although FQHCs don’t have unlimited funds to negotiate with, it’s always worth discussing when it comes to employee retention. Physician turnover can cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million. While many factors influence retention bonuses, they typically range from $10,000 to $50,000. But don’t limit your “bonuses” to money. If a provider adds value to and fits in culturally at your facility, open the room for negotiation. Perhaps your budget can’t adjust, but other parts of the job can. Whether it be a schedule adjustment or a benefits negotiation, let your providers know you’d like to keep them before they leave. Even if the provider ultimately resigns, collect this information anyway. It can be used when negotiating your recruiting budget in the future.