Two hospital systems in Wichita are spending more money on some of their most in-demand, skilled health care positions.
Neither says there’s a shortage of registered nurses or workers to fill other skilled jobs.
But Wesley Healthcare and Ascension Via Christi say they are using different strategies – bonuses or increased pay – to attract the skilled workers they need.
Wesley Healthcare is offering its employees up to $3,000 to recruit for several different skilled health care positions at its two hospitals and two stand-alone emergency rooms.
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The bonus referral program pays $1,500 to employees who refer someone Wesley hires in one of seven full- or part-time jobs: staff registered nurse, respiratory therapist, medical sonographer, pharmacist, neonatal nurse practitioner, echo tech and surgical tech.
After the worker reaches his or her first full year at Wesley, the referring employee receives another $1,500.
“It really is a reflection of positions that are traditionally more difficult to recruit for in the health care setting,” said Allen Poston, Wesley’s vice president of marketing and public relations.
Poston said the bonus referral program doesn’t mean that Wesley is critically short of help in those positions.
“No, we don’t have shortages in those areas,” he added.
But it is a way to fill some positions immediately while at the same time keep the hospital’s “pipeline” of skilled workers full for when demand does increase.
“If you expand parts of the hospital, you want to be able to keep people in the pipeline to fill those areas, from a clinical perspective,” Poston said.
At Ascension Via Christi, officials are looking at adjusting the pay for some of the skilled jobs it needs to fill, said Kris Langrehr, senior director of human resources.
“There are a number of nursing and other specialized clinical roles that are in high demand, for which we tailor our recruitment strategies to the time and circumstances,” she said. “Currently, we’re focusing on investing our resources in building the market competitiveness of the base pay for these positions.”
Kansas Hospital Association spokeswoman Cindy Samuelson said shortages in skilled health care jobs tend to be cyclical. At the moment, Samuelson said, she’s not hearing about any acute shortages in those jobs at any of the association’s 127 full-service member hospitals.
According to the association’s 2016 Workforce Survey, there were 1,885 vacant positions at its member hospitals in January 2017, for a vacancy rate of 7.5 percent. The survey reflects 41 different jobs.
The five highest in-demand positions at the time of the survey were, in order: nurse anesthetist, surgical technician, IT project manager, behavioral health registered nurse and certified nurse aide.