Ongoing challenges with staffing shortages remain a concern in the health care industry. However, amidst these challenges lie numerous opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing a health care workforce management career. As organizations strive to optimize their workforce and allocate resources efficiently, there is a growing demand for professionals with the knowledge and skills to manage the health care workforce effectively.
By stepping into this field, individuals can play a vital role in shaping the future of health care delivery and positively impacting patient outcomes. Workforce management requires the careful balancing of personnel and resources, and professionals with the right training and education are more likely to be effective in the role.
Those who desire to rise in this career should consider the benefits of an advanced degree in health administration, which can not only enhance understanding of the complex dynamics of the health care industry and workforce management, but also help professionals stand out by demonstrating their knowledge to employers.
What Is Workforce Management in Health Care?
Workforce management plays a vital role in the health care industry because it can have a direct impact on the quality of care, the health of patients, and the cost of care. Workforce management is concerned with optimizing staffing levels, ensuring a staff has an effective mix of skills to meet patient needs, and effectively managing employee performance and productivity.
Maintaining staff levels involves analyzing patient needs, predicting future demand, and aligning the workforce accordingly to meet demand and needs. By effectively managing staffing levels, health care organizations can ensure enough qualified staff are on duty to provide timely and quality patient care without being overstaffed or understaffed, both of which can result in increased costs to the organization.
Alongside maintaining efficient staffing levels, health care workforce management focuses on appropriately allocating staff to meet an organization’s needs by matching staff members with the right skill sets to specific roles and responsibilities. For instance, a hospital needs to employ the right number of nurses specialized in critical care, neonatal care, and other specializations, while also maintaining a larger number of nurses on staff who are qualified to handle general patient care.
In addition to the clinical staff, workforce management in health care will be concerned with similar skill sets and staffing levels for other departments and roles — like verifying insurance, radiology, claims, intake and clerical work, and pathology. By accurately assigning staff members based on their expertise and the requirements of each unit or department, organizations can optimize their resources and enhance overall operational efficiency.
The Benefits of Health Care Workforce Management
One significant benefit effective health care workforce management offers is improved patient outcomes. By allocating the right staff members with appropriate skills and experience to each shift — or in some cases each patient — workforce management is key to outcomes and the quality of care. This logistical approach to matching the proper professionals with the right patients at the right time can help reduce the risk of errors, improve patient safety, and improve treatment outcomes.
Health care workforce management can also offer the benefit of increased employee satisfaction. When health care organizations optimize staffing levels and distribute workloads appropriately, it reduces the burden on individual staff members, which can decrease the risk of burnout and fatigue.
Effective workforce management strategies also contribute to cost savings for health care organizations, as efficiently allocated staff resources help avoid unnecessary overtime expenses and reduce reliance on temporary or agency staff, who may not always be available when the need for staff becomes desperate.
In an industry where staff may not always be at ideal or consistent levels, professionals with the knowledge to adapt to changes in demand through effective workforce management are invaluable. Their skills help ensure that health care organizations can flexibly respond to fluctuations in patient volume without compromising quality or incurring unnecessary costs, making their positions critical within health care organizations.
How to Work in Health Care Workforce Management
For those looking to embark on a career in health care workforce management, the first step should be considering the educational requirements. While a bachelor’s degree in health administration or a related field can provide foundational knowledge, pursuing an advanced degree such as a Master of Health Administration (MHA) can offer distinct advantages.
An MHA program equips students with a more comprehensive view of health care management, strategic planning, and workforce optimization. It makes them well-prepared to tackle the complex challenges of health care workforce management, particularly in a high-ranking or leadership position.
In addition to an advanced education, gaining practical experience in the health care industry is highly beneficial for aspiring workforce managers. Many organizations seek professionals with hands-on experience in health care operations, staffing, and employee management. Volunteering or interning in health care settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities, can provide valuable insights into the day-to-day operations of the workforce and the intricacies of managing staff effectively.
While specific requirements may vary depending on the organization and the level of responsibility, professional certifications or specialized training can be beneficial for particular roles in health care workforce management. For example, the Healthcare Financial Management Association offers the Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP) certification, which demonstrates expertise in financial management within the health care industry. There are also certifications in workforce management, such as the Certified Workforce Management Analyst (CWMA), Certified Workforce Planning Professional (CWPP), and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) certifications. Earning these credentials often involves completing additional coursework or workshops and passing an exam.
Health care workforce management positions can offer competitive salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical and health services managers, which includes workforce management professionals, is around $101,300 as of data from May 2021.
The job outlook for these roles is also promising, with a projected growth rate of 28% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS bases this growth on the growing complexity of health care systems and the need for skilled professionals to manage and optimize the workforce effectively. This skill is particularly beneficial in the health care industry, which often requires managing effectively despite staff shortages.
Improve Health Care Efficiency
Individuals interested in pursuing a health care workforce management career can benefit from Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration. This program offers specialized knowledge and skills for effective workforce management, featuring a curriculum covering health care policy, ethics, financial management, and health information systems.
Regis College also offers a field experience in health administration, which consists of a hundred hours of field experience that can help you put your knowledge into practice. With 100% online coursework, you can complete your degree in as little as 24 months from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Discover how you can help shape the future of health care management with Regis College.