HOMEGROWN: Health First Developing Its Own Talent Through Hands-On Training and Education Programs

By  //  March 14, 2022

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Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center has developed three unique training programs

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Health First is tackling the labor shortage the old-fashioned way … by developing its own talent from the inside.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As the U.S. labor shortage continues to make headlines – with impacts on everything from material supply chains to canceled airline flights – few industries have been impacted more than healthcare – driven directly by two-plus years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemics.

Health First is tackling the labor shortage the old-fashioned way … by developing its own talent from the inside.

Similar to major league sports teams and their developmental minor leagues and “farm” clubs, a unique training and development program based at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center is taking a similar track by developing its own “homegrown” talent.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to the economy and no industry has been left unscathed. But hospitals and the healthcare segment have truly seen every imaginable wave from a career and employment standpoint,” said Cheyana Fischer, Chief Nursing Officer.

“The pandemic has challenged us all to dig down deeper as caregivers on the front lines and at the bedside and, as leaders, we’ve become much more creative in terms of staffing – including recruitment, hiring, development and retention. I’m very proud of how our associates and leaders have moved the needle in the face of great adversity by imagining, developing and instituting opportunities for future growth.”

Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center has developed three unique training programs to help develop and grow its own workforce from within.

Health First is tackling the labor shortage the old-fashioned way … by developing its own talent from the inside. According to program coordinator Kendra Spaulding, Clinical Nurse Education Manager, these programs are geared toward filling important roles in strong demand across the hospital – paying the trainees (interns) as they prepare for their new positions.

According to program coordinator Kendra Spaulding, Clinical Nurse Education Manager, these programs are geared toward filling important roles in strong demand across the hospital – paying the trainees (interns) as they prepare for their new positions.

The opportunities and programs range from developing the already-skilled professional for future growth and positioning to areas of great need – to roles requiring very little healthcare experience.

“The support of our leadership, and the interest by both Health First associates and non-associates – has been incredible,” said Spaulding.

“We understand, especially after a global pandemic, that a career in healthcare may have lost some luster for some, while at the same time attracting others. It’s also created more interest by existing associates to move into different parts of the organization – whether it’s a different Health First facility or department. There is no shortage of opportunities available in today’s economy. The ability to train and develop associates with a hands-on approach enables them to grow into new opportunities, which is a benefit to them and an investment in the future growth of our organization as we care for a growing population.”

Health First has a deep and growing list of “grow your own” skills and development training programs, including Pharmacy Tech, Medical Assistant, Phlebotomy Trainees and Radiology Tech,

PERI-OP 101 is a 6-month internship training program for nurses who want to become “circulators” in the Operating Room (OR). A nurse circulator is essentially a registered nurse who assists surgeons and other healthcare professionals during surgical procedures.

Health First’s PERI-OP 101 is a 6-month internship training program for nurses who want to become “circulators” in the Operating Room (OR). A nurse circulator is essentially a registered nurse who assists surgeons and other healthcare professionals during surgical procedures. (Health First image)

They work outside the operating room’s sterile field by ensuring a clean and sterile environment, prepping for operations, recording surgery proceedings, monitoring surgical staff and tools and managing the delivery of samples and specimens. It’s open to all healthcare experience levels, including new-to-practice.

Since its creation, Health First has hired 20 individuals into the program, which utilizes program educational modules, a hands-on skills lab, clinicals at all four Health First hospital facilities, and a multitude of guest speakers.

Health First runs this program three times a year, with the next cohort scheduled to begin July 11, Spaulding said.

The PERIANESTHESIA PROGRAM is also a 6-month internship training program for nurses who want to work in Pre-Op and/or PACU (post-anesthesia care unit).

“Traditionally, nurses must already have documented PACU, ICU, or ED (emergency department) experience to work in a PACU – so this is an opportunity for any nurse, even new-to-practice, to get the training they need to be PACU registered nurses,” said Spaulding.

“We have three nurses in the first cohort, and I am unaware of any other hospital system offering a program like this – it’s such a unique opportunity.”

The Health First PERIANESTHESIA PROGRAM is a 6-month internship training program for nurses who want to work in Pre-Op and/or PACU (post-anesthesia care unit). (Health First image)

The program also runs three times a year and will follow ASPAN’s (American Society of Peri-Anesthesia Nurses) program modules, hands-on skills lab, clinicals at all four facilities, and a multitude of guest speakers. The next cohort begins in June.

Finally, the SCRUB TECHNICIAN on-the-job training program is a 6–9-month training program for anyone who wants to become a scrub technician in the Operating Room.

“This, too, is a brand-new program for Health First and will run 2-3 times per year. Traditionally, it takes two years to obtain an associate degree to become a scrub tech. However, a college degree and certification are not required for this position,” said Spaulding.

The program will cover a variety of topics – such as medical terminology, anatomy, instrumentation, and sterile technique.

“With the large deficit we’re facing and the reduced number of graduates, we’re hoping to address this problem with our new program. Our first cohort begins on March 7th, with a second following on July 11 and will, like the other programs, include lectures, hands-on skills lab, clinicals at all four hospital facilities in the OR and SPD, and a multitude of guest speakers,” said Spaulding.

The Health First SCRUB TECHNICIAN on-the-job training program is a 6–9-month training program for anyone who wants to become a scrub technician in the Operating Room. (Health First image)

For more information about working at Health First, please visit HF.org/career.

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