Human Resources in Health Care – Workforce Training

Abstract

Training is vital for every employee as it contributes to the development of skills and improved performance. Healthcare is not an exception as its workforce deals with the delicate issues of protecting lives. Therefore, effective training is important to avoid mistakes. In addition, training can work as a motivation to employees, and the rate of retention can overweigh turnover rate. Human resource is important in aiding healthcare, as it provides strategies that aim at protecting lives.

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Once healthcare workforce is motivated, there is no likelihood of neglect to patients, which could yield to negative consequences. This paper aims at revealing the importance of workforce training as well as the importance of human resources in health care. It also aims at assessing the importance of human resources in healthcare organizations. Due to the shortage of health workforce, there is a need to promote effective up-to-date training in this sector in order to cater for the growing demand of healthcare services.

Human Resource

Human resource involves a variety of responsibilities; for instance, in the health care organizations, HR officers provide advice and assistance to managers on human resources related issues such as advising on redeployment of employees from one ward to another, recruitment of new staff, implementing training, and development among other activities. The key roles of any human resource manager in an organization are recruitment, retention of staff, handling employee’s grievances and disciplinary cases. He also deals with promoting employee relations, enhances job evaluation, reward management, and administers salaries.

According to Shi (2007, p.358), turnover rates in healthcare organizations vary, however, it is important that organizations ensure that their employees are well motivated so that they may enjoy working for the organization, thus reducing the turnover rate that may cost lives especially in a healthcare organization. The human resource department should ensure that employees are fully compensated such that, their salaries, benefits, and part-time advances are paid on time. In addition, the HR managers in healthcare are responsible for legal issues such as meeting health providers’ standards and complying with the law by ensuring that hospitals operate within the required mandate (Shi, 2007, p.365).

Human Resources in Health Care

Human resource, as pertaining to healthcare, can be viewed as “the different kinds of clinical and non-clinical staff responsible for public and individual health intervention” (Kabene, et al., 2006). This is because health inputs depend largely on the specific individual responsible for delivering health services. Most of the healthcare organizations have employed human resources initiatives with an aim of attaining quality objectives, equity, and efficiency.

Fairness and equity is promoted via the introduction of financial protection mechanisms, the targeting of specific needs and groups, and re-deployment services”; these activities are part of the human resource managers in a healthcare organization, as measures of increasing equity (Kabene, et al., 2006, p.3). Human resources in healthcare seek to enhance the quality of service offered to patients with an aim of satisfying their expectations.

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Challenges and Opportunities of Human Resources in Health Care

Human resource professionals are faced with numerous challenges in their attempt to offer quality services to patients. These challenges may include lack of enough budgets in the hospital and high turnover rates due to lack of satisfaction from employees, thus contributing to low morale. Nevertheless, with quality coordination of services, disciplinary measures and efficient budget, human resource management will play an important role in the success of health care. Another challenge that affects human resources in relation to healthcare is the price competition from other hospitals. Sometimes, patients are forced to choose low price over quality, due to the economic situations. In such cases, some hospitals with quality services receive fewer patients, thus compromising human resource strategies. Normally, human resource strategy may include staffing, which aim at meeting the changing requirements of staff.

Performance management can be used as a strategy that rewards employees for performance. Therefore, healthcare management in return can initiate training of employees depending on the areas of weaknesses in order to ensure that overall performance is improved and the organization gains a competitive edge in the market. The ability of a hospital to attract, maintain, and develop the best talent is important. For human resource to be effective in any organization, it must be flexible, innovative, and responsive, thus conveying its importance to an organization (Kabene, et al., 2006, p8).

Workforce Training

It is important that human resource personnel consider the need for a quality workforce with both skill and training. The workforce should be provided with relevant training that ensures staff is ready to meet a hospital’s present and future needs such that, they are essential to the success of healthcare (Kabene, et al., 2006, p3). Healthcare organizations like hospitals cannot be effective if they do not have the required experts to perform tasks; therefore, it is important for the organization to create training and retention programmes for their staff.

Each organization seeks to enhance morale of its workforce, an aspect that has a direct effect on the rate of turnover. In this case, when the workforce is motivated, it tends to work productively and feel at home in the organization. Therefore, moral-boosting aspects in the organization not only lead to increased productivity but also to retention of employees. This goes a long way in enabling an organization to experience sustainable increase in performance, thus improving results. Human resource managers aim at developing strategies that assist employees in improving their skills, hence increasing satisfaction of employees in their jobs. Training and development is conducted with an aim of improving skills, promoting quality of work, increasing productivity and gaining the employees loyalty.

However, training is associated with expenses. According to Goyal (2005, p.103), new employees require training in order to familiarize themselves with their tasks, and improve their skills. Therefore, it is paramount for the organization to ensure that it retains its skilled employees to avoid repetitive training costs, and only incur training costs associated with improving skills of the existing employees in order to cope with the changing demands of jobs. In addition, healthcare organizations render noble services to the society and there is need for a committed team, which they should retain. Enough personnel should be present in hospitals, and management should be in a position to maintain their staff by motivating them. Motivation can be in monetary or non-monetary form, for instance, training is a non-monetary form of motivation. Therefore, there is need for human resource in a hospital, as this department handles employees.

According to Potter (2000, p.1294), training of workforce in the 1980’s was regarded as of poor quality, thus the need for training staff arose with an aim of improving public health. Moreover, the priority of human resources is training, employee retention, and planning. Healthcare practices vary from dental, pharmacist, physicians, surgeons, and nurses among others, therefore, it is the duty of human resources to protect and encourage patient-staff relationships. This can be made possible if the employees are comfortable in their field.

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Every health care provider is required to pass all examinations during his training course in order to achieve a certificate and to be accredited; however, due to the changing technology, there is need for on-job training that assists them to keep up with technology. Human resource is the center of the health system of any hospital. Pruitt & Jordan (2005) further add that training of the health care workforce should be restructured to fit with new technology in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities, qualities, and tricks that fit in the 21st century in order to manage the current healthcare issues.

Pruitt & Jordan (2005) further add that the global healthcare workforce is under crisis due to the imbalance of human resources for healthcare, which include shortage of workforce especially in developing countries. In addition, the workforce in these countries seeks greener pastures in developed countries, thus abandoning their mother countries, the effect of which is deterioration of health care services in these countries due to shortage of qualified personnel. In this respect, healthcare workforce needs to be trained on patient centered care, which involves understanding the illness from a patient’s perspective, therefore reciprocating to the patient’s needs, values, and preferences. This type of care involves communication, hence involving the patient in decision-making concerning his/her illness, and as a result, promoting healthy behavior.

Partnering is another skill necessary when dealing with patients. Here the workforce needs to be trained on sharing of power and involving patients. This involves the ability to work in teams by cooperating, therefore fostering communication skills, negotiation, ability to solve problems and decision-making. Partnering can also be extended to communities, whereby, responsibility in healthcare is shared, as most patients spend their time at home.

Quality improvement is a skill that requires healthcare workforce to be aware of the outcomes of their actions. For instance, change could necessarily lead to improvements, like improving safety for patients or effective service delivery. Information and communication technology is vital for the workforce to embrace, as it requires skills to manage the technologies that support healthcare, for instance, from paperwork to electronic database and communication technology from line telephones to the use of internet and mobile phones, (Pruitt & Jordan, 2005). It is however evident that, healthcare organizations are highly dependant on their workforce, in terms of competence and efforts. However, it is important for these organizations to increase on the trained workforce and distribute them equally.

Impacts of effective training of healthcare workforce

According to Clarke, et al. (2005, p.40), developing of e-learning in healthcare workforce is important, as it enhances opportunities for the trainees. The authors further add that, E-learning is effective in delivering training, which leads to modernized medical careers. Nevertheless, the healthcare sector needs to curb the problem of less trained workforce; therefore, there is need for expansion of successful training models that aim at innovation. Patients’ access to quality healthcare requires additional qualified and trained employees liable for patient’s health.

Successful training of healthcare workforce fosters innovative skills that aid in solving complex issues. When there is sufficient healthcare workforce, service delivery will be fast and effective. However, most health organizations such as hospitals hire workforce depending on their ability to pay them. This limits the number of workforce in hospitals whereas those employed are overworked due to taking up of extended roles. According to Armiatage & Shepherd (2005 p311), medical school graduates do not reach the target number required especially for doctors. Due to this deficit, some of the health professionals are provided with on-the-job training in order to take up extended tasks.

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However, these extended roles come with a price of job satisfaction mainly through an increase in their salaries. The healthcare field is a demanding one, such that, for hospitals, there has to be fulltime employees and part-time ones. Therefore, a substantial number of healthcare staff is important, as they are the greatest asset of an organization. For the healthcare sector to fit in the 21st century, its workforce must be trained with advanced technology like e-learning to keep up with the changing technology. In addition, the inclusion of the workforce retention, satisfaction and compensation programs are necessary to maintain.

Nevertheless, healthcare organizations must ensure that they have the right workforce in the right place at the right time. The trained workforce must be responsive to patient’s needs and changing technology. In addition, high quality education and training contributes to safety of patients in terms of care. Effective training also contributes to flexibility at the place of work. In most cases, patients need to feel the value of their money, and this can be realistic if they get the attention they deserve, respect, and they are involved in decision making pertaining to their health.

When the right human resource policies are put in place, planning for the supply of employees becomes easier and training is made effective, for instance, through development of new training methods. Management of performance will encourage the personnel to provide high quality services that meet the needs of clients. Working conditions will be made effective through quality recruiting process, enhancing retention, and conducting performance evaluation. In conclusion, effective training yields to quality personnel and curbs the shortage of healthcare workforce that is vital in life saving.

The Governments and Workforce Training

According to news release (2010), the department of health and human services of the United States granted $159.1, on August 2010 to support the healthcare workforce training of nurses and geriatric specialists. In addition, it is important to note that, “a well trained, educated workforce is critical to meeting future health care demands and reform the nation’s healthcare system” (news release, 2010). The government has moved a step further in ensuring that healthcare providers have in place electronic health records by 2015, therefore, there will be high demand for health IT professionals. Healthcare workforce shortages mean that one employee is responsible for a large number of patients. This would prove to be dangerous, as some patients may lack the needed attention, thus costing their lives. It is however important for the government of each country to fund training programs for the healthcare workforce. These funds can also aid in training reforms by enhancing the modern practice in training. The healthcare conditions are not conducive to meet the growing demand of a workforce.

Conclusion

Safe, effective, and accurate healthcare should be the main objectives of any healthcare organization. Healthcare organizations deal with the most sensitive and noble task as compared to other sectors. This is because it responsible for patient’s health and lives. Therefore, there is need for highly qualified personnel in this sector, who are highly devoted and flexible enough. As the above research shows, there is need for more workforce in this sector, therefore, the government should chip in and assist in funding training for healthcare workforce.

The technology keeps changing, hence calling for more innovation in the operations of healthcare. Therefore, e-learning has proved to be effective as it converts operations from paperwork to paperless that involves electronic data entry. In addition, the latest equipment is designed with the latest technology, therefore requiring the workforce to be familiar with such operations. Human resources in healthcare can assist the organization in planning for their training programs, which can be on-the-job training or off-the-job training. Due to the sensitive nature of the healthcare sector, it is important for the management of such organizations to ensure that they attract qualified staff, develop and train them, and retain them. Retention can only be possible if the employees are motivated, thus developing job satisfaction, and providing the best services to the patients. When employees are demotivated in such a sector, the probability of loss of lives may rise due to neglect, workload, and biasness. Therefore, it is very important for the management to ensure that there is a conducive environment to work in. Finally, qualified personnel should be hired for the right job and they should be present in the right place and at the right time to enhance safety and attention to the patients.

References

Armitage, M. and Shepherd, S. (2005). A new professional in the healthcare workforce: role, training, assessment, and regulation. Web.

Clarke, A. et al. (2005). A strategic approach to developing e-learning capability for healthcare. Health Information & Libraries Journal, Vol.22, issue 2, pp. 33-41.

Goyal, S. (2005). Hospital Administration and Human Resource Management. Fourth Edition. New Delhi: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd publishers.

Kabene, S. et al. (2006). The importance of human resources management in health care: a global context. Human Resources for Health, Vol. 4, Issue 20.

News Release. (2010). HHS Awards $159.1 Million to Support Health Care Workforce Training. The department of health & human services. Web.

Potter, M. et al. (2000). Needs Assessment and a Model Agenda for Training the Public Health Workforce. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 90, issue 8, pp. 1294-1296.

Pruitt, S. and Jordan, J. (2005). Preparing the 21st century global healthcare workforce. Web.

Shi, L. (2007). Managing human resources in health care organizations. NJ: Jones & Bartlett Learning Publishers.

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