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Optimizing Your Workforce: Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)

May 30, 2024

Advanced practice providers (APPs) play a pivotal role in modern healthcare delivery, bridging the gap between physicians and patients and providing high-quality care across multiple settings. However, the recruitment and retention of top-tier APP talent pose significant challenges for healthcare organizations. 


In this article, we’ll explore how you can improve your advanced practice recruitment strategies and effectively connect with job seekers in your practice area. You’ll also learn actionable tips to enhance the retention of advanced practice providers. 


Understanding the Landscape of Advanced Practice Providers 

Advanced practice providers are not physicians but perform medical activities that are commonly carried out by a physician. Some of the most common examples include: 

  • Nurse Practitioners (NPs) 
  • Physician Assistants (PAs) 
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) 
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) 
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) 
  • Certified nurse midwives 


These clinicians work across the entire healthcare spectrum, including: 

  • Oncology 
  • Pediatrics 
  • Acute care 
  • Behavioral health 
  • Cardiology 
  • Community health 
  • Family medicine 
  • Emergency medicine 
  • Gynecology 
  • Orthopedics 
  • Internal medicine 
  • Critical care 
  • Primary care 


According to 2023 data, APRN and PA jobs are expected to grow at the fastest rates. Demand for APRNs will increase by 40% over the next decade. During that same time frame, demand for PAs will rise by 28%. 


So, what exactly is driving demand for APPs? For starters, the healthcare industry is facing an ongoing physician shortage, which is projected to worsen through 2036. By that time, the United States will face a shortfall of roughly 86,000 physicians. Advanced practice providers are crucial when it comes to filling that gap, performing many of the essential functions as physicians and ensuring that patients receive the timely care they need. 


Additionally, advanced practitioners are incredibly versatile, as they are capable of taking on many different patient care responsibilities. This surge in demand has made advanced practice recruitment more challenging than ever. Therefore, your organization must get creative with its outreach, onboarding, and retention strategies. 


Recruitment Strategies for Advanced Practice Providers  

How can you master the art of provider recruitment? While the entire journey will undoubtedly involve some trial and error, you can streamline the process by: 


Identify Target Candidates 

Educate your recruitment team on targeted job postings. Find out where high-quality candidates are most active and focus your efforts on those channels. Look to professional platforms such as LinkedIn, as well as healthcare-specific solutions designed for APP and physical recruitment. Make sure to do your research and go where the candidates are. 


It’s important to use targeted job postings that are strategically crafted and distributed to reach a particular audience. For instance, if you need to hire an APP with thoracic care experience, incorporate elements specific to that field in your posting and targeting efforts.


Perhaps most importantly, you must leverage the power of professional networks and associations. Reach out to membership groups that align with your staffing needs and advertise your job opportunities on those forums. You can do some outreach to find out whether the associations will showcase your organization in their weekly or monthly newsletters. 


While it’s important to be efficient with your targeting efforts, you also need to cast a wide net, especially if you are trying to fill vacancies in a highly competitive field, such as urgent care. When prospects search for jobs in their fields, you want your posting to be one of the first opportunities they encounter. You want the listing to be highly specific to bring in qualified candidates, but not specific that it deters qualified applicants. One way to do this is to include a “Required Qualifications” section as well as a “Preferred” or “Nice-to-Have Qualifications” section. You can also include a statement such as:  

Although meeting all preferred qualifications is ideal, we recognize that each candidate brings unique strengths and experiences to the table. Even if you don't meet every preferred qualification, we encourage you to apply. We assess candidates holistically, considering the full range of skills, expertise, and potential value you can contribute to our organization.” 


Craft Compelling Job Descriptions 

You need to create engaging job descriptions for advanced practice opportunities. What you write should immediately grab the audience’s attention and leave them eager to learn more about the opportunity. Wherever possible, be detailed about the role and what it entails, including elements like: 

  • Pay 
  • Work schedule 
  • Whether it's full-time, part-time, or locum tenens 
  • What healthcare services they will be providing 
  • What their day-to-day might look like 


Being candid about compensation is especially important. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 80% of people are unlikely to apply for jobs that don’t provide pay range data.


After you’ve addressed the basics, emphasize what your health system offers to add value to the applicant’s career journey. Highlight things like wellness programs, advanced opportunities, training, etc. With APPs in such high demand, it’s important to remember that they are screening your organization just as much as you are vetting them. 


It can be hard to compete with the bigger healthcare systems in this area but be creative in selling your organization. Ask your long-time employees what separates your organization from the others and what makes them stay, then share that in the job descriptions! And, if you can find ways to invest in wellness programs or support that fit your budgetary restrictions. Can you offer paid time for peer support groups? Incentivize opportunities for extra PTO?  


Implement Effective Screening and Selection Processes 

Once you receive an application, you’ve got to act fast. Generally speaking, qualified professionals don’t want to jump through a bunch of hoops to get hired or navigate a months-long selection process. However, you do need to be thorough and detailed with your screening processes to ensure that the person will be a good fit for your organization. How do you strike this balance? 


First, make sure you have robust screening technologies in place to automate redundant aspects of selection. Then, quickly move through basic steps like reviewing resumes, verifying certifications, and checking references. This way, you can eliminate any unsuitable candidates early and move on to the interview stage. 


Don’t string great candidates along, as doing so can cause them to withdraw their applications. Instead, communicate with them early and often during the selection process. If there’s a delay, be honest about what caused it and how soon it will be resolved. 


Involve Key Stakeholders in the Decision-Making Process 

Make sure that the right people are fully integrated into your selection processes, including department heads, physicians, and C-suite executives. Hiring someone who doesn’t have the full support of the leadership team can cause friction for the new employee and existing staff. In turn, there’s a greater chance that the new hire won’t work out. 


Nonetheless, you need to balance involving stakeholders with maintaining efficiency. Instead of inviting multiple members from each department or tier of the organization, identify one person to represent each group. For instance, if you are screening APPs for an emergency medicine role, involve the physician in charge of the ER. 


Involving important stakeholders can also set the stage for a more seamless onboarding process. It means the new hire will have already met some of the team's most essential members and will feel familiar when they begin onboarding. 


Retention Tactics for Advanced Practice Providers  

Securing a talented candidate for your healthcare organization is a significant achievement, but it's just the beginning. Once they join the team, it’s crucial to proactively foster a culture that encourages them to stay. 


Equally important is focusing on the retention and development of your existing staff. Empowering and supporting your team members helps avoid the costly and disruptive cycle of resignations, onboarding, and hiring. This continuous turnover not only strains your budget but can also negatively impact the quality of patient care.  


With that in mind, it’s helpful to know some impactful advanced practice retention tactics to employ when needed. Some examples include: 


Create a Positive Work Environment 

Transform your healthcare organization into a great place to work by cultivating a supportive culture. Everyone should feel like they are part of the same team, working toward common goals. After all, they are. 


Implement effective methods for sharing and resolving concerns. There are several ways to go about this, including anonymous employee surveys, monthly team meetings, or even a digital suggestion box. The key here is to demonstrate that you are listening to your employees and acting on their feedback.  


While you can’t implement every suggestion, acknowledging that you’ve considered their input is critical. It’s also important to strive to make working conditions better at every turn. 


Creating a positive work environment requires more than just addressing complaints. Show your appreciation for your team’s hard work with meaningful gestures. Instead of generic efforts like pizza parties, consider offering personalized gifts, gift cards, or hosting lunches for each department.  


Perhaps most importantly, you need to provide opportunities for professional advancement and growth. Dedicated and talented APPs want to expand their skills. They thrive when given the chance to learn and evolve, so make sure you are providing this type of growth-oriented environment. 


Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits 

Creating a positive work environment is essential for improving advanced practice retention, but it’s also important to compensate talented professionals fairly. This means offering competitive salaries and benefits, including healthcare, dental, and retirement packages. 


While you don’t want to get into salary wars with your competitors, your pay scale should be somewhat comparable. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay more; if your compensation is close and you excel in areas like workplace culture, you can still attract top talent. 


To truly stand out, consider offering non-traditional benefits such as uniform and equipment stipends, wellness packages, and additional time off. You want to make your team feel empowered and supported, especially in a demanding field like advanced practice. 


Promote Work-Life Balance 

Offering remote work for APPs is often challenging, but if it’s feasible for your organization, consider integrating it into your business model. If remote work isn’t an option, prioritize promoting work-life balance through creative scheduling. 


Many hospitals and care facilities use rotating schedules to ensure adequate coverage while providing employees with ample time off. Revisit your scheduling strategy to ensure that you are using resources optimally while giving your team enough time off. 


Additionally, consider offering more paid time off (PTO). Increased PTO can make your organization more attractive to new hires and help current employees stay refreshed and focused. 


Provide Access to Resources for Stress Management and Burnout Prevention 

Life as an advanced practice provider is notoriously stressful, making it essential to take proactive steps to mitigate stress and burnout. Offer your team resources like counseling services and mental health support. 


Educate your team on the warning signs of burnout. Encourage management to look out for these indicators and take steps to mitigate them as soon as they notice any concerns. Also, make it reasonably easy for employees to use the PTO that they earn. A little downtime can do a lot to reduce burnout and decrease the likelihood of attrition. 



Are You Prioritizing Advanced Practice Recruitment and Retention? 

Advanced practice retention and recruitment are crucial elements of your organization’s talent management strategy. Ensure your company is a great place to work by offering competitive compensation and great benefits. It’s also vital to foster a positive culture where team members feel valued and respected.  


Partnering with a staffing company like GHR Healthcare offers significant benefits. We provide personalized support for your APP retention and recruitment efforts through our educational resources and consulting services, helping you effectively address staffing challenges.   


Our tailored staffing solutions assist you in finding, hiring, and retaining top talent. We offer a range of services, including contract, project-specific, interim, and permanent staffing. Connect with us to transform your business into a talent acquisition powerhouse. 

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