Identify problems with role before hiring

Verify applicant understands access

I can't work on Saturdays." "I can't stay late on Wednesdays." "I could never do bedside registration because I can't deal with blood or vomit."

Hopeful applicants aren't likely to tell you these things, but they might do so when talking with someone they view as a peer.

Jean Valenta, an admitting manager at St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis, uses peer interviews to make sure that new hires truly understand the patient access role. (For more information on this topic, see "Ask staff to flag problem applicants" in Hospital Access Management, July 2012, p. 78.) "Candidates feel they can share more with peers. They may reveal scheduling restrictions or the inability to deal with situations," she says.

Human resources have trained five experienced patient access employees in giving interviews and provided them with a Peer Interview Summary Report. [The form is included with the online version of this month's Hospital Access Management.]

After completing the interview, the manager invites the potential candidate to meet with one or two patient access employees. The peer interviewers ask behavior-based questions that encourage a conversational answer. "After the peer interview, I meet with staff to review the Summary Report," says Valenta. "Staff know I take their insights seriously and trust in their judgment."

Valenta also teams new hires with an experienced patient access employee. "The goal is for the new hire to have not only a preceptor, who teaches job functions of the position, but also a 'first friend,'" she says. "He or she is responsible for teaching the 'ropes' in our department."

The preceptors make new team members feel welcome by showing them the nearest restroom and vending machine, the cafeteria, and the best places to park. "Program participants feel greater job satisfaction and value in their department. New team members feel welcome," adds Valenta.