How to catch a monkey and fry its brains:
Cut a hole in a tree and put a coconut inside. Cut a smaller hole big enough for the monkey's hand. The monkey will reach in and grab the coconut but won't be able to pull it out.
When the monkey sees you coming, it will hold onto the coconut rather than let go and run away. Then you catch it, kill it, fry its brains and hold a feast.
The moral, said Herbert Y. Wong, Human resources who told this parable to the National Association for Healthcare Recruitment at its conference in Orlando, Fla., late last month, is: Don't be the monkey with the coconut. If you are going to be butchered by healthcare restructuring, don't just stand there. Run.
He refined the point for his audience. "The concept of recruitment in a downsizing industry is at best dubious, if not suicidal.....The time of being a passive recruiter, of writing the job description, is past. Your job is in danger. You are dinosaurs," he said.
Wong, president of Quantum Solutions, told the recruiters that to survive, they must transform themselves into human resources strategists for the era after hospital consolidation and re-engineering. In that capacity they will have two main functions: first, to consult with top management about the human skills that will be needed to pursue the strategic direction in which the institution wants to move, and second, to find the people who have those skills.
"After re-engineering, there will be a huge (human resources) gap. Ask to be part of that team," Wong said.
Wong thinks the best workers for the future healthcare enterprise will be those who understand the big picture, who have an entrepreneurial outlook, who "think systemically.
"I want people who can tolerate a large amount of ambiguity," he said. "I want people to be willing to lose their job."
Tina Filoromo, a recruiter at Toledo (Ohio) Hospital, isn't so sure the recruiter's job description is obsolete. The present surplus of skilled labor is a temporary phenomenon, she believes, and will vanish by 2000.
"We will have another shortage," Filoromo said. "It will come full circle. Reality will bite us again."
You have to think of hospitals as knowledge-based organizations that will use more employee capacity, she said at the conference. It's likely that in a few years, the skills possessed by most of the eligible work force won't match what the hospitals need.
"There may be a glut of people without jobs in the year 2000, but they won't have the skills to fill the existing jobs," she said. "We're not going to need general (medical-surgical) nurses. We'll need home health nurses, nurse practitioners."
Many nurses, if they want to keep their jobs, will need to retrain to become advanced practitioners. "Some will make it, some won't," Filoromo predicted.
Those nurses with advanced-practice degrees, for whose services hospitals can bill, will demand to be paid more than staff nurses, probably in the $55,000 to $60,000 range.
To recruit those nurses, she thinks hospitals will have to reinstate now-forgotten incentives such as paid training, flexible work hours, rent subsidies, transportation to work and sick child care.
`Recruitment in a downsizing industry is at best dubious, if not suicidal.' Herbert Y. Wong