IHS Successful Retention Practices
Retention Brief
Volume 2
Issue 5
May 2015
As you look at
your staff, carefully
choose which team
members are best
suited for short or
long-term training.
A Sound Investment

The IHS Division of Health Professions Support is pleased to bring you the fifth Retention Brief in our series designed to address the challenges of retaining health professionals and clinical staff.

This month we’ll look at how clinical directors can retain staff who are offered long-term training that will increase their career options. By carefully selecting the individuals who will receive such training and by actively working to support them once they return, you can reduce the risk of losing valued clinicians.

Training Opportunities

From time to time, rural hospitals and clinics develop new specialty clinics within existing departments. As the staff members' skills develop, their interest and dedication to the program also is likely to grow. In order to receive in-depth training in the new specialty area, practitioners may have to leave their facility for a short or long period of time for training.


Clinical directors know that allowing employees to participate in long-term training can potentially create a risk of losing them to another hospital or clinic. Once employees strengthen their skills and realize how valuable those skills are, they might choose to pursue an opportunity outside of their facility or even outside the Indian health system. Savvy clinical directors also realize that employees’ personal situations might change during that time, which could also alter their decision to return after training.

Encourage Professional Growth

Offering individuals a chance for professional development shows your support for their growth and will help them achieve their career goals. If properly managed, the steps you take may also ensure that employees will stay within the organization once they reach their objectives.

Best Practice Solution

After carefully considering the risks and benefits involved in allowing staff to pursue in-depth training, clinical directors can discuss with departing staff their commitment to the facility and the Area. The clinical director can make an informal, verbal agreement with staff that includes a candid discussion of the director’s hope to retain the individuals, by doing what is necessary to support them. When the clinicians return from training, the clinical director can work to ensure they have the resources needed to deliver the new clinical services within the facility, including equipment, staff and financial support. They can also give the practitioners new opportunities, such as expanding their services into the surrounding community. The director further can encourage practitioners to keep pursuing the health profession education needed to maintain their credentials. Directors’ efforts can pay off as the specialty clinics — under the newly trained practitioners’ leadership — develop into regional services and models for similar programs in other facilities.

Continued Support

To ensure that staff members develop successful careers, you must be willing and able to provide them with the training they require to expand their professional competencies and remain professionally current. Retaining valued staff members depends on your ability to solidify their commitment to your facility and your support in terms of career development and financial compensation.

Make an Impact

As you look at your staff, carefully choose which team members are best suited for short or long-term training. Then be sure to provide support and additional compensation once they return. This leadership will make a positive impact on your retention efforts.

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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