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Hiring is one of the most important factors in running a successful urgent care. While some clinic owners do hiring on their own, others may hire a staffing agency to help fill positions. Either way, having hiring policies and a clear set criteria for ideal personnel is essential for finding—and keeping—good employees.
Hiring is a path of choices. When choosing what urgent care employees to hire, keep in mind these best practice tips:
Often stellar hires are found by others in your professional network. While career fairs, conferences, or open interviews are helpful for finding certain personnel positions in your clinic, friends of friends can spread the word for your best clinical and management talent.
Many in urgent care are former ER or family practice doctors who are looking for a change. Be sure candidates are interested in the faster pace of urgent care. Look purposely for your main providers—as they are the heart of your practice. Reach out for referrals from others in urgent care and check with appropriate physician associations and groups.
While it may be tempting to focus only on hiring providers as the face of your clinic, remember that other staff roles are just as important for setting a good impression. Front desk reception, for example, sets the very first experience for patients. Consider doing working interviews where candidates work a mock shift to see if they fit your clinic’s pace.
Also, supporting staff, like MAs and med techs, are equally important in offering a caring approach as your doctors and NPs. Apply thoughtfulness in hiring in other roles too, and whether or not you have time to train a new graduate—or if you need someone to hit the floor running. Remember billing and/or collection teams who act on behalf of your clinic—and interact directly with patients—also give a lasting impression of your business.
While offerings vary, all urgent cares have one thing in common—providing convenient, ambulatory care. This means unlike hospitals or physician offices that are set by appointment, your staff needs to be able to handle continuous walk-in patients. Staff schedules should be set up months in advance. Weekend and holiday shifts should not be voluntary options, and you should have a set of full-time hires to handle all positions.1
While part-time or temporary hires are common in urgent care, you also need dedicated providers to cover all shifts. (See recommended staffing quantities depending on patient volume.)2 Consider ideal staffing models for your patient volume to ensure correct amounts of help, while not burning out staff. Keep in mind staff with multiple roles is also a frequent urgent care hiring practice.3
How can your staff, in any role, meet needs if they don’t know what is required of them? Have administration create clear job descriptions and hold staff responsible for completing their shift duties. Also, conduct background checks and follow up on references on all candidates—including providers, no matter their reputation. Remember the adage of hire slow, fire fast.
Healthcare has become so much about following legal policies and malpractice risk reduction that you need to have all your paperwork in order. Ensure you follow pertinent state, federal, and medical requirements when hiring. Physicians handle board certification, but be sure to credential new providers immediately following hiring.
What’s the best way to encourage staff to delight the patient, even though the patient is going through undesirable circumstances in visiting your urgent care? Start by encouraging your own staff. A valued staff will naturally try harder. Make work at the “office” an environment conducive to learning and positivity.
Offer extra incentives for staff, have fun competitions, recognize employees, and encourage ideas for improvements. Foster an atmosphere of compassion that naturally flows into patient care. Patients can sense the mood at the clinic, and if it’s good, they’ll recommend you to others.
Once you’ve found the right people, maintain and grow these employees by offering frequent and meaningful evaluations of performance. Reward your top achievers. Further teamwork and collaboration through interactive employee training and promotional options.
Offer training in various areas too. Not only can you train to learn the changing medical requirements, but you can also train to improve workflow and charting processes. Encourage staff to continue education and grow knowledge by offering conferences, seminars, or webinars.
Choosing the right people is crucial to the success of your clinic. Your business is the people you hire. This is especially true in service-oriented industries, like urgent care, where staff experience is what you are offering to patients. Your staff—their personalities, their character, and how they treat patients—directly reflects your clinic. Make sure it’s the reflection you want to portray.
What staffing tip have you learned that you’d like to share with other urgent cares? Comment below.
Recommended Reading: The Healthcare Executive’s Guide to Urgent Care Centers and Freestanding EDs – Chapter 6: Human Resources and Staffing by Michael F. Boyle and Daniel G. Kirkpatrick
1. Earl, Lawrence. (2013, June). “6 Ways to Avoid Scheduling Problems in Urgent Care”. June 2013. http://urgentcarementor.com/6-ways-to-avoid-scheduling-problems-in-urgent-care/
2. American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine. Frequently Asked Questions. http://aaucm.org/13/13414/module.aspx
3. Betancourt, Renee M. and Weinick, Robin M. (2007, September). “No Appointment Needed: The Resurgence of Urgent Care Centers in the United States”. http://www.chcf.org/~/media/MEDIA%20LIBRARY%20Files/PDF/N/PDF%20NoAppointmentNecessaryUrgentCareCenters.pdf
A special thank you to Lori Japp, PA-C, CEO of Integrity Urgent Care, who graciously answered questions that helped contribute to the content of this article.