THA Initiatives to Address Tennessee’s Healthcare Workforce Challenges

Hospital leaders from across the state have reported that the workforce shortage is their number one concern and addressing this issue is one of the top priorities of the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA).

This issue is impacting all hospitals and hospital systems in every region of the state, whether they are located in rural, suburban or urban settings or are publicly or privately administered.

THA has worked over the past year on several initiatives that address this issue from multiple angles, including:

  • Recruitment of new students to the healthcare workforce pipeline
  • Helping the current workforce deal with burnout and stress
  • Innovation of new more flexible staffing models and ideas on how to use technology to deliver care more efficiently.

Foundational to all these efforts is a statewide, long-term health workforce supply and demand study that provides an assessment of the current and future demand, supply and supply adequacy of key healthcare occupations, as well as analysis of reasons for workforce shortages and programs that might help alleviate them. The study will be used to:

  • Support advocacy efforts related to training health professionals or other initiatives to improve overall supply adequacy
  • Inform strategies of hospitals and other stakeholders to improve recruiting and retention
  • Support efforts to improve care delivery and overall efficiency of healthcare delivery in Tennessee

Recruitment – Increase the Supply of Future Healthcare Workers 

THA is recruiting new talent to the healthcare pipeline through a marketing campaign and student outreach.

THA has launched a recruitment campaign called It Happens in a Hospital. This youthful, colorful and conversational campaign is targeted to Tennessee middle school, high school, and college/tech school students, with the goal of raising awareness about the variety of careers available at hospitals and highlighting current hospital staff as they share information about their hospital careers.

Hospitals are encouraged to engage with THA in this campaign! A toolkit has been created for hospitals that provides resources your facility can use to join in on the campaign and may also be helpful to you as you create similar campaigns within your hospitals or systems. We encourage you to use the materials/concept and re-brand with your own logos.

The campaign was built using in-depth market research of our target demographic to align our messaging with what matters most to them. Key insights from this research include:

  • Students have a fear of getting “stuck” in a career that they realize isn’t the right fit for them and are unaware of the vast array of hospital careers that are available to them.
  • Students rely on real life – both negative and positive – experiences when they are considering their future career options. They want to learn more about the real day-to-day details of potential job opportunities and appreciate job shadowing and internship experiences.
  • Students value job satisfaction, work life balance and scheduling flexibility. They want to engage in purposeful and meaningful work, but also want to be able to disengage from work and have time to do the things they enjoy.

THA is also engaging youth students at conferences and career fairs across the state, speaking with them about hospital career opportunities and the benefits of working in a Tennessee hospital.

THA has convened leaders from nursing and allied professional schools and other stakeholders in a workshop with hospital and health system leaders to develop partnerships between hospitals and health systems and postsecondary institutions.

Retention – Remedy Employee Burnout

THA is providing education and support in response to healthcare worker burnout and addressing employee well-being and resilience.

  • Well-respected subject matter experts are served as speakers for THA’s Summer Conference and Annual Meeting in 2022 and presented on this topic.
  • THA is hosting a five-month webinar series for hospital staff on mindfulness and meditation practices to improve overall well-being.
  • The Association will provide online resources, as well as compile and share successful strategies from member hospitals and health systems.

Innovative Staffing Models – Improve Efficiency and Job Satisfaction

The Association is exploring creative solutions and novel approaches to develop additional efficiencies and enhance job satisfaction among existing hospital staff.

THA has engaged design innovation firm Do Tank to help conduct workshops to identify fresh approaches to staffing challenges. Through a sponsorship with the THA Center for Innovative Solutions, THA completed a Nursing Workforce Innovation Design Sprint, a 30-day journey to design and test new workforce solution concepts.

The Nursing Workforce Innovation Design Sprint Summary Report details the outcome of workshops held at THA on May 25th and June 29th to capture innovative approaches to solve the current staffing challenges. THA convened 55 nursing and human resource leaders to help develop and guide the process. Using human centered design tools and guided exercises, teams completed the sprint with validated, focused prototypes and a strategic course of action to advance their ideas. The report summarizes the sprint activities, shares the key canvas tools and highlights the various ideas that teams developed as prototypes. For more information, contact Chris Clarke.

Do Tank also facilitated two other workshops for THA:

  • A Diversity Equity and Inclusion workshop took place August 25 as a train-the-trainer session with individual coaching to help organizations advance their DEI strategies.
  • Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development (TCWD) staff  facilitated a workshop to convene higher education and hospital leaders to explore further partnership ideas to advance health careers, improve the pipeline of new graduates and ensure critical competencies are addressed to prepare students for employment.