What is succession planning in healthcare?

Succession planning in healthcare ensures that an organization has consistent and effective leaders– chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer, chief information officer, and other directors and managers. Having a succession plan ensures a successful and smooth transition from one leader to the next.

Why do hospitals need to have a succession plan?

There are many driving forces behind the need for succession planning, but one of the greatest needs is the current healthcare system’s pressure due to a large geriatric population and increasing access to public health. The pace of Baby Boomer retirement has accelerated in the past few years, while a shortage of new healthcare graduates is expected to grow.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the physician shortage is expected to range from 46,900 to 121,900 physicians by 2032. Moreover, as per the estimates of the American Nurses Association, there will be a need for 3.44 million nurses in 2022.
The shortage not only fuels the industry’s urgent need for healthcare providers, but it also results in burnout from currently employed healthcare staff. This burnout amongst leaders and staff results in a high turnover rate and low morale within the organization. These problems ultimately lead to the decrease in patient safety and the quality of care, and an increase in patient dissatisfaction, resulting in revenue loss.

What should hospitals include in a succession plan?

A formal succession plan in healthcare usually consists of the identification of critical healthcare leadership positions, nominating eligible successors who meet requirements, and creating an action plan to prepare these successors for their future positions.
Here are a few options organizations can include in their succession plans to see long-term success.

  1. Develop a leadership program to develop new leaders in-house
    An in-house leadership program would allow for potential successors to be trained by those already in managerial positions. As candidates progress through the program, they will learn and become familiarized with hospital processes and structure. These programs allow potential leaders to become exposed to any problems, scenarios, and issues they would need to work through within the organization.
  2. Apply retention strategies for current staff and leaders to prevent turnover
    Given the currently growing shortage of healthcare providers in the US, it is integral for hospitals to adopt retention strategies within their organizations to lower and eliminate high turnover rates. Though the implementation of these strategies requires much time and patience, the result is incredibly beneficial to hospitals in the long run.
    • Recognize staffers’ achievements and value their work
      Front line workers are often delivering care around the clock, so it is imperative to show their work is valued. Without recognition, staff members may begin to feel purposeless
    • Provide opportunities for employees to relax
      Healthcare providers also need to be provided for. They need ways to manage their own stress and burdens from providing physical and emotional care for their patients.
    • Create a positive culture by actively listening
      Though creating a positive culture in an organization may seem difficult, it is quite simple. Provide opportunities for staff members to communicate with managers about their concerns, and provide training for your managers on effective communication and constructive feedback. Fostering a comfortable and safe environment is incredibly beneficial and will boost morale amongst staff.
    • Hire per-diem staff to relieve existing staff burnout and support patient care
      While many aspects of a succession plan require an extended amount of time and patience to see results, hiring per-diem staff is a quick and effective way to provide relief to existing staff burnout. At Compassionate Solutions, we strive to fill in the gaps within healthcare organizations with highly qualified and trained international and domestic healthcare providers.
      Compassionate Solutions provides long-term succession planning provided by international nurses to aid organizations for a minimum of 3 years. These experienced supplemental staff will float throughout care areas within the provider’s scope to care for patients. We provide a wide range of healthcare professionals (RN, ST, OR RN, PT, CNA, etc.) that can support hard-to-fill positions within your organization.

Succession planning for hospitals and healthcare organizations is truly integral to survive and thrive despite volatile employee burnout and turnover. Allowing per-diem staff to support urgent patient care is the most efficient and effective way to begin and sustain succession plans.