IHS Successful Retention Practices
Retention Brief
Volume 2
Issue 2
February 2015
An employee
is an asset
only if he or she is
the right candidate
for the job.
The Right Stuff

The IHS Division of Health Professions Support (DHPS) presents the second in this year’s series of Retention Briefs designed to help address the challenge of retaining professional and clinical staff in an Indian health facility. 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 important it is to determine whether a clinician is the right match for the position, facility and community and is suited for your working environment. The challenges of your position present you with the opportunity to use best practice leadership, communication and participatory management skills.

Other Options

When applying for a health profession position, it should come as no surprise that most clinical positions require flexibility in scheduling and a commitment to working the necessary hours (evenings, weekends and on-call status). While a potential hire may appear to be a perfect match on paper and meets all of the necessary credentials to do the job, if he or she finds it hard to work evenings and weekends due to other commitments, your facility is left understaffed. It’s vitally important for incoming clinicians to understand the workload at the start so they can readily commit to the demands of the job.

If a current clinician is no longer able to fulfill the necessary hours, one solution would be to suggest an alternative position to the clinician, even if the opening is elsewhere. An employee is an asset only if he or she is the right candidate for the job. If that is not the case, then in the long run, it is easiest, most cost-effective and productive to acknowledge the situation and suggest alternatives to the clinician. This tactic gives you time to search for the right candidate for the job, someone who will commit to working the hours needed to best serve the community and who will enjoy a long-lasting career at the facility.

Be Involved

The most effective leadership happens when you, as an executive manager, fully understand the organization, seek employee input regularly and are able to clearly define your goals and strategies for the facility’s long-term success. By soliciting staff input and participation, you are better able to make decisions that will benefit the entire organization. Communicating concerns and expectations and setting goals is a process best shared when the entire staff is involved.

Words to Lead By

Professional development is not 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:

Leadership in Healthcare: Essential Values and Skills, Carson F. Dye. Health Administration Press, 2010.

Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership, Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review Press, 2011.


Perfect Phrases for Coaching Employee Performance, Laura Poole. McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 2013.

Rural Communities: Legacy and Change, Cornelia Butler Flora and Jan L. Flora. Westview Press, 2012.

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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