The Forsyth Medical Center is an award-winning 847-bed facility. It is part of Novant Health, a healthcare network that comprises seven hospitals and a variety of other facilities and programs that serve approximately 3.4 million residents in western North Carolina, northern South Carolina and southern Virginia. Novant Health employs 14,500 people in a wide variety of positions.
In the twenty-first century, retention of registered nurses is critical to ensuring continued growth and quality of care for large healthcare networks. In 2003, the turnover rate for nurses nationwide stood at 20.4%, well above the national average, according to the Bureau of National Affairs. Furthermore, the demand for qualified nurses continues to outstrip the supply. The National Rural Health Association estimates that by 2010, only 635,000 nurses will be on hand – far below the projected need of 1.7 million.
Forsyth Medical Center’s leadership team realized that turnover of critical care nurses was leading to mounting costs and placing a sizable strain on existing staff. The cost of replacing a critical care nurse is comparable to the individual’s annual salary. This takes into account the expenses of training, orientation, loss of productivity, overtime for existing staff, and wages paid to temporary nurses. The leadership team also identified “soft costs” which, while difficult to assign a dollar value to, represented major threats to its growth. These included lower morale and increased stress for its existing staff of nurses, and lack of continuity in patient care.
Forsyth Medical Center’s leadership team designed a comprehensive process to improve their hiring process for nurses, which consisted of recruitment, operational and educational components. They set a goal of decreasing the number of mis-hires and hiring the right person the first time. As part of this process, they incorporated the employee assessment tools and consulting expertise of the Omnia Group. Since 1987, they had used the Omnia Profile to help select and retain candidates for management positions; now, they wanted a selection tool that could help identify whether candidates had the same specific personality attributes as their top critical care nurses.
The solution was the Omnia 720 Composite profile. Forsyth Medical Center supplied The Omnia Group with the data it needed to develop a benchmark of the specific strengths and attributes of its top critical care nurses. This step took each critical care nurse involved in the study about 20 minutes. Now candidates take the Omnia 720 as part of the interview process, and the hiring manager receives an instantaneous report comparing the candidate to the benchmark of top critical care nurses, complete with a score and interview questions keyed to each candidate. The Omnia 720 report also provides advice on the best ways to manage candidates for future success, even if they are not an ideal fit.
According to Novant Health CEO Paul Wiles, “The Omnia Group’s selection tools give us more resources to make better-informed hiring decisions. They not only provide insight into whether to hire, but also advise on the best way of helping candidates fit into our environment.”
This strategy yielded immediate results. In the first year Forsyth Medical Center used the Omnia Profile as part of the hiring process for nurses, turnover of critical care nurses decreased a dramatic 17%. When considering the cost of replacing critical care nurses, this results in a savings of several hundred thousand dollars. Also, improved morale and continuity of care has helped both the Forsyth Medical Center and Novant Health win several prestigious awards, including the 2004 Ernest A. Codman Award for improving the quality and safety of care provided to patients, Working Mother Magazine’s Best in the Industry for working mothers, Modern Healthcare’s Top 100 Integrated Health Networks in the nation, and Hospitals and Health Networks’ 25 Most Improved Hospitals for 2004. Novant does not only use Omnia selection tools for nurses. In its broader client-partner relationship with Omnia, Novant also uses other Omnia selection, communication, motivation and management services.