Talent recruitment in health systems: Effects on hospital culture and patient relations

A Research Brief by: Brianna Houston

BHPatient care is seen as the number one factor related to outcomes of hospitalized individuals. However, a hospital's operations and functions may also be a matter of life or death for its patients, which is why hospital administrators should concern themselves with the most minute of decisions, to ensure the comfort of its most vulnerable patients. More specifically, the human resources department of a hospital or health system should be diligent in recruiting talent in such a way that positively affects the comfort of vulnerable and minority patients.

Researchers have developed and defined the term "cultural competency" to understand the significance of the physician-patient relationship. Cultural competency is an approach "to improving the provision of healthcare to racial/ethnic minority groups in the community with the aim of reducing racial/ethnic health disparities." According to Balsa and McGuire, physicians tend to harbor biases against minority patients, and treat them with less regard than white patients. There are barriers that exist between physicians and minority patients, such as lack of trust, racial discrimination, or cultural incongruity. As a result, minority and vulnerable populations tend to use fewer health care services than their peers of the majority. As reported by Laveist, "minority populations were 1.46 times as likely to identify their usual source of care as a facility rather than a person." In addition to innate biases, physicians and hospital staff also fall victim to group categorization, which is "acting toward a person based in part of their membership in a social group like race or ethnicity." As a result, "minorities, especially Hispanics, [are] less likely than whites to indicate that their usual source of care providers listened to them.

Hospital administration and recruitment has also been analyzed, resulting in research that shows a hospital's success depends on the structure, organization, and processes of said hospital, just as much as the qualifications and experiences of employees. Researchers have concluded that the decentralization of decision-making in hospitals and health systems will allow employees to feel a sense of ownership and pride. Scholars suggests that employing hospital staff with a high sense of cultural competency will lead to better scores and success with vulnerable and minority populations than those hospitals who do not value cultural competency. Researchers conclude that a hospital's operations will benefit the most if a potential employee is culturally competent.

My findings suggest that the hiring processes of hospitals and health systems should be structured in a way to ensure every member of its staff is culturally competent. I recommend that the hiring process becomes decentralized and the responsibility of individual HR departments supersedes that of corporate HR departments. Decentralization of the hiring process will guarantee that the hospital staff can provide the best quality of care for its minority and most vulnerable patients.

Thank you to Mr. Ebbin Dotson, PhD, Mr. Christopher Clarke, MPA, Mr. Michael Dixon, and Ms. Sharonda Simmons for instruction and guidance throughout the research process.