Access job fair brings fast results

HR helps speed process

Facing a low unemployment rate in your geographical area at the same time you’re desperate for an infusion of new employees? Try hosting a job fair.

That’s the solution John Woerly, RRA, MSA, CHAM, and his management team devised when the hospital where he served as director of patient intake needed to increase its access staff in a short period of time.

"We were creating new functions, establishing upfront collections and bedside registration, and were putting in an Advance Beneficiary Notice process," explains Woerly, now a manager with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in Indianapolis. "We were going from a decentralized operation to a more centralized one, so we were going through rapid change, which created new positions."

To publicize the job fair, he says, Woerly advertised in the local newspaper and on the local radio station, announcing that applications would be taken between 5 and 7 p.m. on a particular day. "We had rooms set aside for keyboard skills assessment, human resources people there to get applications filled out, and our entire management team on-site."

More than a dozen managers attended

Between patient intake and patient financial services, which joined in the effort, some 12 to 14 management personnel were present, he notes. All available job openings, with hours and necessary qualifications, were posted, and a four- person panel, including Woerly, screened each applicant.

"We asked about their background, areas of interest, and the hours they preferred," he says. "I might say, I don’t have these hours available within my department, but financial services does.’" Following the screening, another manager would conduct a more in-depth interview, he adds.

He had arranged in advance that human resources personnel would speed up drug testing/physicals and checking of references, "so instead of taking two weeks, it was done within the week."

As a result of the job fair, about 20 people were hired, he notes. "Before that, if we could hire three or four a month, we were doing well."

Physicians as registrars?

Access managers in a community with a medical school might want to try a recruitment strategy he used at another facility, Woerly suggests.

"When I was in a university setting, one of the [educational] criteria for medical students was that they work a semester in a hospital, preferably in a nonclinical setting," he says. "We hired four or five interns and residents and employed them in patient scheduling and preregistration."

Woerly says he discovered that these physician/registrars were extremely computer savvy and could be trained in about one-fourth the time of the average new hire. As an added benefit, "when they become full-fledged physicians, they’ll have a better appreciation of what [access personnel] do and how we do it," he points out.