This post comes to us from our Kansas member and was written by Jessica Lindsey.
In her role as physician recruiter with Salina Regional Health Center, Brandie Nelson wants to do more than simply fill an open position with a qualified candidate and call it a day.
“We want a provider to build their life and practice in our community, not just see us as a temporary stop on their career journey,” Nelson explained.
Attracting long-term healthcare providers is an ongoing challenge for many rural Kansas communities, but Nelson and many others in her position across the state have come to appreciate the resources available to combat the issue. The Kansas Recruitment and Retention Center (KRRC), a program facilitated by the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Rural Health Education and Services department, is one of those resources.
Since 2004, the KRRC has been a key player in working toward an overall solution for the challenges faced by medically underserved areas of Kansas. The KRRC team has placed more than 210 providers while assisting communities in recruiting and retaining healthcare providers, as well as supporting providers who are searching for job opportunities.
“KRRC does a fantastic job matching the candidate’s needs to the needs of the organization,” explained Nelson. “Their overall recruitment goal is in line with ours: placing a patient-centered candidate who will be a permanent fit within our medical system and community.”
The KRRC, a not-for-profit, operates much differently than a recruiting firm, and the staff prides itself on establishing relationships and teaming up with rural communities and providers.
“The KRRC is different because we know Kansas,” said Amy Greenstein, Senior Candi-date Relations Coordinator who has been with the KRRC for seven years. “We specialize and only work with healthcare facilities in Kansas. Our fees are drastically lower than for-profit firms, making our services available to facilities that can’t afford the fees of other firms.”
Connecting Providers with Kansas Jobs
The KRRC is a healthcare career service for physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, dental hygienists and allied health professionals. The KRRC assists these providers in finding job opportunities and educates and supports them through the entire process.
“First and foremost, the goal of the KRRC is to strengthen the healthcare workforce in Kansas,” said Joyce Grayson, Director of Rural Health Education and Services.
Though it is a University of Kansas Medical Center program, the KRRC also partners with other universities to provide these resources to students in the healthcare field.
“We all want the same thing, no matter what university,” Grayson said. “We simply want to help those who are trained in Kansas to be practicing in Kansas.”
There is no cost to the candidate seeking a position. KRRC staff visit university and residency programs throughout the year to connect with candidates and educate them on how to navigate the job-search process, including what to look at when searching for a job and what a compensation package looks like.
“I believe that the unique resources offered by the KRRC allow candidates to have ac-cess to rural jobs that they might not find out about otherwise,” said Greenstein. “For-profit firms often times do not specialize in Kansas—they don’t come and do a site visit to meet the hospital administration and see for themselves the facility and the community. The KRRC does, so it can promote the positions much better.”
Greenstein is often the first contact the candidates have within the KRRC. To start the job search process, candidates send a résumé/CV and complete an online enrollment form. Next, each candidate talks with a recruitment specialist to discuss professional goals and preferences. Then they are sent job opportunities and can narrow down which ones interest them. The KRRC communicates the interest with the organization looking to hire, and the organization will contact the candidate directly for an interview if staffers believe it’s a match.
Partnering with Kansas Communities
The goal is to offer Kansas communities and organizations an affordable and personalized service to find the best candidate for healthcare positions, helping them to put the money they would have spent on a for-profit firm back into the community. In 2004, the KRRC worked with 22 organizations in rural Kansas, and that number has grown steadily. KRRC is now working with an average of 80 to 90 organizations and listing more than 200 positions each year.
“We do our best to make the process easy and effective for our partner organizations,” said Brad Thomison, Senior Recruitment Coordinator with the KRRC. “Organizations submit their job opportunities to us, and then we source candidates, interview them, and provide them with opportunities to choose from that match their unique search criteria. This means that the referrals that our client organizations get are prequalified, direct and primed for quick and effective connection. We use industry-leading online sourcing tools, host educational and resource sessions with educational partners and attend regional and national recruitment fairs to promote all of our positions.”
The KRRC staff members are advocates for rural lifestyle, and they are passionate about preserving rural communities and helping them thrive added Thomison. The relationships that have been built with these communities are intentional and are the key to the success of this program.
Sasha Randolph, Senior Recruitment Coordinator with the KRRC, works to establish, grow and maintain the relationships.
“I consistently keep open communication with each of the organizations on a regular basis, sometimes contacting them on a scheduled call either bi-weekly or monthly,” Randolph said. “In addition, I schedule a site visit to view their facilities and meet their current providers and staff. This allows me to see first-hand what their needs are and how we can be of service to them. Following up in a timely manner is key. We are consistently staying in front of the organizations around Kansas to offer our range of services.”
The KRRC goes above and beyond simply matching candidates. It also offers marketing workshops and training for rural communities. There is often a misconception that rural organizations aren’t progressive, said Grayson, but that’s far from the truth. The KRRC supports communities as they seek professionals to help them grow their community through quality, forward-thinking healthcare that is accessible to everyone.
“Besides directing some fantastic candidates our way, the KRRC has been a valuable resource for rural healthcare recruiting and retention information,” Nelson said. “Multiple employees from our organization have been able to attend workshops hosted by the KRRC. The workshops are a great way to network with other rural facilities and they provide education regarding recruiting and marketing best practices.
“Make sure to utilize all of the services offered by the KRRC.” Nelson suggested to organizations throughout Kansas.