IHS Successful Retention Practices
Retention Brief
Volume 2
Issue 1
January 2015
Taking the time
to make a true
investment in staff
is something a
leader should think
of as an innate
part of the job.
Anticipate Staff Needs

The IHS Office of Human Resources (OHR) presents the first in this year’s series of Retention Briefs designed to help address the challenge of retaining professional and clinical staff within Indian health facilities. We encourage you to review these cases and to discuss with the leadership team (administration, clinical directors, other leaders, etc.) how you can implement these practices when faced with similar challenges.

This issue shows how being aware of and responding to staff needs can help leaders retain a valuable staff member. Professional development is important for both staff and leaders — it does not have to be expensive. And staff communication is a two-way street: Leaders should make sure they keep staff up to date on changes that affect the facility and they should include staff in the decision-making process as much as possible.

Leading the Team

Suppose you hire a talented nurse for her first managerial position. Without proper training and support, she could easily become overwhelmed and leave the organization. As a leader, it is your responsibility to guide the new manager and give her the tools she needs, such as suggestions about establishing workload priorities and confidently executing them. In addition, you need to make yourself readily available so that the new employee can get immediate answers to questions and deal with issues before they have a chance to escalate out of proportion. Taking the time to make a true investment in staff is something a leader should think of as an innate part of the job. By encouraging the staff to perform their best, you stay in touch with their concerns and needs and ensure they have everything they need to grow, progress and succeed throughout their careers. You also set a standard that inspires staff members and shows that you recognize them as the heart and soul of your organization.

Opportunities to Learn

Making sure that employees are aware of professional development opportunities will help you create a successful, enriching work environment. IHS divisions and departments, as well as its network of partners, offer training opportunities and professional development courses and resources for health professionals. Whether through self-study programs, webinars, webcasts or certification programs, opportunities for continuing medical education can greatly enhance a practitioner’s career and day-to-day clinical work.

One continuing education option is through the IHS Clinical Support Center (CSC) Office of Continuing Education (OCE). The OCE’s mission is to develop and support continuing professional education activities and meet the needs of Indian health program providers throughout the United States. Learn more by visiting CSC.

Words to Lead By

Professional development is not only reserved for staff. Leaders can learn and grow in their jobs, too. Reading is a good way to pick up new information and benefit from different perspectives. Here are a few books on management that could add to your skill set:

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age. Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh. Harvard Business Review Press, 2014.

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. HarperCollins Publishers, 2010.


The First-Time Manager. Loren B. Belker, Jim McCormick and Gary S. Topchik. AMACOM/ American Management Association, 2012.

Best Care, Best Future: A Guide for Healthcare Leaders. David M. Lawrence. Second River Healthcare, 2014.

Share to Lead

Giving staff members an opportunity to express themselves not only helps bolster their self esteem but also is key to ensuring their long-term success within the organization. Involving staff in leadership and decision-making roles will provide them with a sense of ownership. Another good way to get your staff’s input and support is to hold regular meetings to solicit feedback from the team, whether it is to discuss procedures, HR-related issues or establishing team-building exercises. Not only does this tactic let you reach out to staff, it also permits you to tap their expertise.

Indian Health Service

The policy of the IHS is to provide absolute preference to qualified Indian applicants and employees who are suitable for federal employment in filling vacancies within the IHS. IHS is an equal opportunity employer.

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