As competition among health facilities in the private sector rises, attracting top talent becomes an increasingly important objective. This is the case, especially for top cadre technical personnel like doctors, laboratory technicians, and radiology department staff.
Unfortunately, the employee recruitment process attracts all types of candidates. The unenviable task of sifting through these falls on the human resource department.
Vetting by consulting referees, former employers, and even training institutions was stringently enforced in the past. Nowadays though, the sheer number of medical training institutions and higher turnover rates of health workers puts a strain on employers desiring to do so. This may contribute to laxity in enforcing such protocols.
For delivery of quality healthcare, good recruitment goes beyond filling vacancies — they must also aim at delivering the best workers. To achieve this, judicious evaluation on competence, professionalism, and trust is needed.
Sometimes though, emergencies occasioned by sudden staff exits and numerous strikes sees established due diligence protocols being overlooked. Casual or short-term engagements are particularly susceptible to this.
As a result once in a while hospitals may end up hiring untrained applicants masquerading as health professionals. This year, a few such instances in public and private institutions have occurred.
The public’s inability to distinguish the various health worker cadres and multiple opaque licensing and regulatory bodies are also to blame, especially in the “informal” health facilities. We may unknowingly be harbouring medical workers with forged credentials.
By nature, the practice of medicine has a weak point. It is a science and an art with both practiced together, “but the art must always be driven by the science” as my tutor says. Its hands-on nature is also its downfall since repetition improves skills and keen persons can learn from observation and of what health staff do.
This is why non-medics who hang around hospitals long enough acquire medical parlance and procedural skills.
The challenge, however, arises where the scientific rationale behind their decisions and actions are made and is usually how they are identified.
To address this, cooperation amongst human resource departments and licensing bodies in streamlining and easing recruits’ vetting protocols needs to happen.
However, as the number of training institutions and health workers locally increases, this poses a challenge for HR departments in health institutions when hiring and in evaluating employees.
Due to the nature of our work, and the trust placed in our profession, hospitals and health facility operators need to enforce employee vetting and human resource teams should strive to ease verification of applicants qualification, education and professional skills.