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Health care job growth doubled in February

 

By: The Advisory Board Company

The health care industry added 32,000 jobs in February, accounting for 13.6% of the 236,000 nonfarm jobs created last month, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In comparison, revised BLS data show that the health industry added just 13,000 jobs in January, partly because the agency now estimates that hospitals lost about 3,100 jobs in January.

Latest report shows hiring across industry

Within the health sector, physician offices and outpatient health centers experienced the biggest gains in February, adding about 14,000 jobs for the month, according to BLS. Meanwhile, ambulatory health care services added 13,700 jobs in February, down from 26,700 in January. 

The agency also found:

  • Hospitals created 8,900 jobs in February;
  • Home health care added 6,100 jobs, up from 5,700 new jobs in January; and
  • Nursing homes added 9,000 new workers.

Overall, the national unemployment rate last month dropped to a four-year low of 7.7% (Selvam, Modern Healthcare, 3/8 [subscription required]; Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/8).

Facebook Seeking Head of Diversity as Hiring Ramped UP

 

By Brian Womack - for Bloomberg

Facebook Inc., operator of the world’s largest social-networking service, is seeking a global head of diversity, as the quickly expanding company’s recruits people from different backgrounds to foster creativity.
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The position includes responsibilities around employee recruitment, development and retention, the company said on its website. The diversity chief will build and manage a team focused on diversity, according to the posting.

Facebook, grappling with large rivals such as Google Inc. is ramping up hiring, growing 44 percent to 4,619 employees in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said last month the company plans to “continue to grow our headcount quickly in 2013.”

“We’re a fast-growing company, and this role will help us formalize processes that ensure we scale our diversity at the same rate,” Slater Tow, a spokesman for Facebook, said in an e- mailed statement. “In the past, our diversity and inclusion efforts were decentralized amongst many employees and, given our stage of growth, we are consolidating our work and people into one team.”

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Among Facebook’s efforts is a new search service the company began to roll out last month. The company is also bolstering its mobile offerings, including an upgrade to its application for smartphones based on Google’s Android software.

While Facebook’s staff is growing quickly, it’s still much smaller than some of its rivals. Google, for example, has more than 10 times as many people.

The diversity position will be based at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

“We’ve always focused on recruiting the very best and brightest,” Tow said. “We are big believers that creativity happens with people who have different perspectives and background.”

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Social Media in the Workplace and Interviews

 

The news that some employers have asked for direct access to the Facebook accounts -- including user names and passwords -- of people applying for jobs at their firms has set off a firestorm of controversy.

The reports have raised questions about whether the practice is illegal and if such a policy could expose those employers to potential discrimination lawsuits. The dust-up has even triggered calls by some in Congress for a federal investigation into the practice.

But those recent events only highlight a new reality: The identity that individuals create in the world of social media is quickly becoming an important factor in hiring decisions and in people's broader professional lives.

"The questions around employer access to social network log-ins reflect a broader debate in society about a host of digital privacy issues," says Andrea Matwyshyn, a Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics. "This is a new concern -- the degree to which employers can gain access to all role identities through one virtual space. There is no parallel to that in the real world."

While the reaction to the practice has been swift and intense, it's hard to predict if it will become a lasting trend.

But, Matwyshyn says, she began hearing about employers requesting access to the Facebook accounts of potential hires as far back as 2008. To date, however, she says, there is no good data on how widespread the practice has become.

The fact that it exists at all is not entirely unexpected: According to Matwyshyn, a number of studies show that most employers look at candidates' online profiles when making hiring decisions, noting a 2011 survey by social-media monitoring service Reppler that found that 91 percent of recruiters report using social-networking sites to evaluate job applicants.

But checking out a publicly available profile on Facebook -- or even asking a job candidate to "friend" someone in human resources at a company where they are applying for a position -- is worlds apart from gaining unfettered access to someone's account through a password.

"If you can take Facebook passwords, what about Gmail passwords?" asks Stuart Soffer, a non-residential fellow at The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and managing director of IPriori, an intellectual-property consulting firm.

If left unchecked, Soffer says, the practice could expand beyond human resource departments evaluating potential employees.

"What about allowing Facebook access to insurers so they can see what you are saying about your health?" he says. "They could use it as a basis for judging the risk of insuring you."

The request for access to log-in information also raises some serious legal questions.

Clearly concerned about the legal and business implications of privacy breaches, Facebook has come out against the practice, stating that sharing or soliciting a Facebook password is a violation of the company's statement of rights and responsibilities.

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"We don't think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don't think it's the right thing to do," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan says. "But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating."

Matwyshyn says employers could be essentially asking job candidates to violate their contract with Facebook if they ask for passwords, creating "an untenable conflict between contract law and employers' perceptions of their own interest in vetting candidates."

In addition, if a Facebook account includes information on an applicant's race or age, for example, that could potentially expose the employer to claims of discriminatory hiring practices. According to Matwyshyn, it is legally hazy whether accessing someone's Facebook account where that information is available is akin to asking it in the interview.

"Arguments can be made that this is a back-door method to gaining information that the prospective employer wouldn't otherwise have access to," she says.

Meanwhile, the issue is getting the attention of Congress. Senate Democrats Charles Schumer and Richard Blumenthal, from New York and Connecticut respectively, have asked the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to look into the practice.

But even if it is eventually prohibited or otherwise curbed through legal or legislative channels, Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard predicts that the use of social media in hiring decisions will continue to be a flashpoint in the years ahead.

"The core of the problem is the blending of personal and professional lives," Rothbard says. "We are still in the infancy of trying to understand how to deal with all this."

Opening the Window -- and Closing a Door?

Just how far employers can legally go to check out job candidates online may not be clear -- but why they are looking for new methods of evaluating applicants is easy to understand, says Wharton management professor Adam Grant.

Research, he says, has shown that the typical job interview is a poor tool for predicting which candidates will succeed. If that does not work, companies need to find something that does.

"Applicants are very motivated to put their best foot forward in an interview," Grant says. "It is very difficult to spot the people who will represent an organization well. But on Facebook, you can see the applicant making day-to-day decisions -- it is a window into how an individual is likely to act."

In fact, recent research has provided evidence that online profiles can be very revealing about specific personality traits.

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A paper published recently in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology entitled, "Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye," studied 518 undergraduate students and their Facebook profiles.

The researchers found that the Facebook profiles were a good predictor of the so-called "big five personality traits:" conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, emotional stability and openness. And for a subset of the group where the researchers were able to contact supervisors at companies that had hired those students, there was a correlation between scores on two personality traits -- emotional stability and agreeableness -- and job performance. (SeeHREOnlineTM story here.)

"There is strong evidence that social networking is a valid way of assessing someone's personality," says Donald Kluemper, a professor of management at the Northern Illinois University College of Business and a co-author of the study.

But he says that does not mean there is evidence that an unstructured perusal of a Facebook account will result in better hiring decisions.

"Until a method is validated in a number of ways, including a study of adverse impacts and the legal issues, I wouldn't recommend companies rely on social-networking profiles," Kluemper says.

Now, the use of social-media information is far from fine-tuned, with recruiters typically checking out social media to get a general sense of the person applying for a job or to hunt for any red flags. But it is possible the use of that information could become more sophisticated.

"People are mining that data right now for other purposes, including targeting ads to the right people," says Shawndra Hill, a Wharton operations and information management professor. "It is not out of the realm of possibility to focus that on other outcomes, like how good a match someone is for a job or whether there is a high likelihood they might do something illegal."

While the value of that data may be apparent, it remains to be seen how social media should ultimately fit into some aspects of professional life.

Take the less-controversial practice of managers' friending their colleagues through Facebook. Rothbard says this practice creates numerous potential headaches. Two years ago, she and some colleagues did a series of interviews with 20 people at a variety of levels and in a number of different industries, and found that people were often unnerved friending either bosses or subordinates.

"People felt very uncomfortable with crossing the private and professional boundary when it came to the hierarchy [within an organization]," Rothbard says. "They talked about friending their bosses with similar discomfort and language as they did when they spoke about friending their moms."

Interestingly, Rothbard adds, the rules for social networking in the workplace may differ based on gender.

She led a study of 400 students in which participants were shown Facebook profiles, told that the person was either a boss, a peer or a subordinate, and then asked to rate the individuals based on how likely they were to accept that person's friend request.

The findings: Female bosses with bare-bones profiles were less likely to be accepted than those who revealed more personal information, while the opposite pattern held for male bosses.

"Women who have limited profiles are more likely to be shunned than the women who have a more active presence," Rothbard says. "People see them as cold. But male bosses who reveal less information are more likely to be accepted than those who reveal a lot of information."

The increased scrutiny of people's virtual lives may change the way individuals operate in the social-networking realm.

According to Rothbard, there are essentially four ways of dealing with privacy issues. There are those who control their list of friends carefully, rejecting friend requests from people with whom they don't want to share personal information. Then, there are those who accept virtually all requests, but are very careful about what they post, limiting that content to very safe, less revealing information.

There is also a hybrid approach in which people use privacy settings to share some information with close friends and less-sensitive material with others. And, finally, there is the "let it all hang out" crowd -- those who are comfortable sharing all their information with a large group of close (and not so close) friends.

Grant predicts more people will opt for the more-controlled, filtered approach as they realize their social-media profiles are being scrutinized by potential employers.

"As employers gain this information, so do candidates," Grant points out. "So candidates may use Facebook more carefully and remove the cues that are so valuable [to employers]."

Soffer agrees people will become much more careful about their social-media personas.

"There are ways around this," Soffer says of the unwanted exposure of social-media behavior. "One thing that could happen is people will start having two Facebook accounts." One will be for close friends; the other, a more sanitized version for employers.

But there is always the potential that something posted for viewing by a small group of close friends on Facebook could get out into larger circulation. And for that reason, some argue, the risks of being active in the social-media space outweigh the benefits.

"If you are a CEO, or aspire to be a CEO or director of a public company, I think it makes sense to refrain from social networking," says Dennis Carey, vice chairman at Korn/Ferry International. "There are other ways to communicate with employees and the outside world through properly controlled channels. Some of the messages that are conveyed can be misconstrued or taken out of context by a third party."

The fear of a photo or comment made long ago coming back to haunt you is hardly unfounded. Because sites such as Facebook have been around less than a decade, it is not certain how long someone's social-networking history will remain accessible.

"It is unclear how long the information persists," Hill says. "Firms have different privacy policies, and often privacy policies change over time. While there are policies that allow for deleting data you no longer want on the site, it is hard to guarantee that this information won't live on a database somewhere."

The controversy worries some fans of the social-media revolution.

"I worry that there is already a sense right now that our participation online may come back to haunt us," says Chris Ridder, co-founder of the law firm Ridder, Costa & Johnstone and a non-residential fellow at The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

"It inhibits our ability to express ourselves," he says. "If we can only express public relations-like statements, it takes away a good bit of the utility of the Internet. I think it would be a shame if we were to lose the playful aspect of this new technology."

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How would you feel if someone asked for your account information to Facebook or Twitter in an interview? What if your boss did it? Do you think this is a privacy violation? Should there be legislation on this? Let us know in the comments; we want to hear from you!

 

Nursing Popular with Older Students

 

Nurses are as diverse as the patients they treat.

But that diversity will become grayer for the next few years as more middle-age people are going into nursing as a second career.

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That trend can be seen in the class that will graduate May 18 from Heartland Community College's two-year nursing program in Normal. Students graduate with an associate's degree in nursing and then may take the registered nurse licensing exam.

Non-traditional students — those who don't begin college right after high school — are the norm in Heartland's nursing program. But, in this class, none of the 40 students is a traditional student.

“I was pretty surprised when I started,” said second-year nursing student John Cook, 47, of Normal. “There was virtually no one right out of high school. I remember thinking that I'd be the oldest one in there by far and that's not the case.

“It's a huge cross-section of people with bachelor's degrees in other fields, including a lot of moms.”

Students begin clinical rotations at area hospitals and long-term care facilities during their first semester, said professor of nursing Barb McLaughlin-Olson. For every hour that they are in the classroom, in the lab and at clinical sites, they are expected to spend three hours on course work.

The nursing-as-a-second-career trend has been in place for several years, said Deb Smith, vice president and chief nursing officer of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington.

Some people who pursue nursing as a second career take advantage of accelerated, one-year nursing programs for people who already have a bachelor's degree, Smith said. For example, Illinois State University's Mennonite College of Nursing in Normal has an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program.

Laurie Round, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing executive at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, said the recession has driven some people from their original careers into nursing. Both ISU-Mennonite and Illinois Wesleyan University's School of Nursing in Bloomington reported an increase in enrollment last fall.

There is a demand for nurses because nurses work in hospitals, doctors' offices, businesses, insurance companies, long-term care facilities and churches. But second-career nurses also are drawn to the field for altruistic reasons, Smith and Round said.

“They want to do something that's meaningful,” Round said. “They want to touch peoples' lives.”

Middle-age adults going into nursing need to learn a career quickly and need to keep their energy level up.

Some middle-age adults are challenged by all the technology involved with patient care, Round and Smith said.

But the maturity and experience of second-career nurses generally makes up for any challenges.

“I love the energy, the intensity, the maturity and the decision-making skills that they bring to the field,” Round said. “These people are choosing nursing while raising a family and working at the same time and that shows perseverance, commitment and discipline.”

Second-career nurses not only come in with the experience of previous employment and raising a family. They also have social skills and because they are close in age to nurses already in the field — the average age of nurses is 47 — they fit in with other nurses quickly, Smith said.

McLaughlin-Olson said, “They can use their life experiences to help them become better nurses. Because they've lived through life's challenges, they've learned how to critically think when issues come up, and they have empathy and can relate to people having problems.”

But Smith and Round also are impressed with traditional nursing students, who graduate to enter nursing in their early 20s. They are intelligent, energetic and learn quickly, they said.

For that reason, both Round and Smith said middle-age, second-career nurses are not necessarily the new face of nursing.

“I see a great mix across generations,” Round said.

Adds Smith: “It's good to have people entering nursing with a variety of life experiences. That further enriches our profession.”

 

Nurse Shortage Trends

 

Adapated from a WBUR radio series. Links to Audio can be found below.

 

America's nursing shortage has been compared to a perfect storm gathering in intensity. In just over a decade nearly 80 million baby boomers will be in or reaching retirement, their medical needs placing an immense strain on our health care system. Nurses themselves will be leaving the profession and a younger generation of nurses will not be trained in enough numbers to fill the growing needs of hospitals and patients.

In "Nursing a Shortage: Inside Out," WBUR Special correspondent Rachel Gotbaum reports on how the shortage has come about and why it matters for nurses, hospitals and patients alike. She takes us into hospitals where the longest running nursing shortage in history is already impacting care. She reports on the roots of the problem that encompass not just the changing career choices for young women, the out-dated image of nursing but also the serious difficulties faced by nursing schools trying to find nurse-educators.

Nurses explain the effect of the shortage on their care of patients and how it is influencing their commitment to the profession and whether they stay or leave. Hospital administrators describe what they need to do to recruit and retain nurses in this competitive market , and Gotbaum reports on the growing tensions over whether mandating nurse-patient ratios is an answer to the problem or an impediment.

There have been shortages of nurses in this country since the 1960's but they have always resolved themselves fairly quickly. This nursing shortage began in 1998. Although it has been slightly alleviated it is expected to get worse when considering the increased retirement rates expected in coming years.

80 million baby boomers are slated to retire in the next decade and they will need a lot more medical care. At the same time many experienced nurses will be leaving the profession. The shortage began after managed care ushered in an era of cost cutting in the early 1990s. Nurses were replaced by lesser skilled workers. In Massachusetts 27 percent of hospital nurses were laid off, the largest number in the country. The profession became unattractive to women who began to have many other career choices. But as nurses left the workforce, studies showed that patient care suffered. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients whose nurse cares for 8 or more people have a 30 percent greater chance of dying than if their nurse cares for four patients. The same nurses are also more likely to be burnt out and dissatisfied with their jobs.

As hospitals started experiencing acute shortages of nurses, they responded by raising salaries and offering bonuses to nurses to enter the profession. Media campaigns were launched to extol the attractions of nursing. By 2003 185 thousand registered nurses entered this nation's hospital workforce. But even with this huge influx of nurses the shortage in 2007 still existed, and as demand for nurses increases many agree the gap will steadily grow. The number of registered nurses increased from approximately 2.5 million in 2007 to under 2.7 million in 2011. Despite this increase, some states are fighting about whether to mandate nurse-to-patient ratios. The number of new nurses is influenced by a large number of external factors so pinpointing the cause is difficult, but the significance of the increase is more important. Although 200,000 sounds like a lot of nurses, this is only an 8% increase. Just as important as the number of nurses is the number of patients which rose almost 10% from 2007 to 2008 alone according to the National Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

Audio Links Click Here

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How do you think these numbers compare to what you observe in hospitals and health care facilities? Do you think legislation is the best way to solve nurse-to-patient ratios? This creates a demand for nurses but not necessarily the supply.

Legislation Setting Nurse to Patient Ratios

 

Legislation in California that set nurse-to-patient ratios added more registered nurses to the hospital staffing mix, not fewer as feared, researchers say.

Lead researcher Matthew McHugh, a nursing professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, says California was the first state to pass legislation setting staffing levels. However, mindful of the ongoing nurse shortage California legislators determined that hospitals could employ licensed practical nurses as well as registered nurses to meet the requirements of the law, McHugh says.

“California’s state-mandated nurse staffing ratios have been shown to be successful in terms of increasing registered nurse staffing,” McHugh says in a statement. “From a policy perspective, this should be useful information to the states currently debating legislation on nurse-to-patient ratios.”

California experienced a more serious nurse shortage than other areas of the country but made up the gap by hiring “travel nurses” — temporary workers who move from hospital to hospital as needed and ae not less educated LPNs, the researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, examined hiring practices from 1997 to 2008, pre- and post-implementation of the legislation, concluding that the increase in nurse staffing did not come at the expense of decreasing RNs.

“Our findings demonstrate that the nurse-to-patient ratio mandate in California was effective in increasing registered nurse staffing in hospitals,” McHugh says.

From monster.com

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Does your state have legislation like this? What do you think? Does it help or hinder you in doing your job? How about your patients? Let us know in the comments!

Hospital Employment Rises in February

 

Hospital employment climbed by 15,400 in February

Employment at the nation's hospitals increased 0.32% in February to a seasonally adjusted 4,806,600 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. That's 15,400 more people than in January and 109,600 more than a year ago. Without the seasonal adjustment, which removes the effect of fluctuations due to seasonal events, private hospitals employed 4,797,600 people in February - 13,300 more than in January and 111,500 more than a year ago. The nation's overall unemployment rate was unchanged in February at 8.3%.

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What are your thoughts? Is your hospital hiring? Growing? Why do you think so?

Healthcare's Jobs Boom

 
Baby boomers are turning 65, and they will need lots of help
By Ilan Kolet and Shobhana Chandra
Businessweek.com
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While the economy lost 7.5 million positions during the 18-month recession, the health-care industry added doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel. Together with the social assistance category, which includes day-care workers, career counselors, and similar positions, the sector will add more than 5.6 million employees and be the biggest job gainer by 2020, according to new projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing is forecast to lose 73,000 jobs by then.

“The first baby boomer just turned 65 last year, so when it comes to health-care jobs, we haven’t seen nothing yet,” says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York. Almost 87 million Americans, or one in four, will be 65 or older by 2050, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Health services require face time with patients, which means “these jobs are protected from the forces of globalization,” says Rupkey. “We can’t imagine a time when we’ll be able to outsource the job of a home health aide giving a senior a bath or helping with physical therapy.”

Openings in health care are broadly distributed geographically, even in economically distressed small towns where they often are “all that’s left,” says David Card, a director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. They also provide “pretty good” opportunities, particularly for women, he says. During the recession, health care added almost half a million positions, while construction, which typically employs more men, shed 1.1 million workers.

Sharon Rudolph, 64, is studying to be a registered nurse alongside classmates who had previously worked in real estate and banking, as well as one who owns a nail salon. The Fort Lauderdale resident was a radiologic technologist before she took a break in the 1990s to raise her family. Now she’s in a 27-month training program at the city’s Nova Southeastern University. “I felt I’d become more marketable once I get out,” says Rudolph, who has managed to keep her other licenses in diagnostic medical and cardiac sonography current. “I have to work twice as hard as some of the kids” to keep up with the coursework.

Registered nursing, which requires at least an associate degree, will have the largest growth of all U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding 711,900 jobs between 2010 and 2020, reaching a total of 3.4 million. The number of home health aides, who don’t need a high school diploma but require on-the-job training, will increase by 69 percent, to 1.7 million. Hiring of physicians and surgeons will rise by 24 percent, to 859,300, the bureau predicts.

While the additional jobs probably will lift employment, many pay low wages. That means these workers will be less able than employees in higher-paid industries to boost consumer spending. Yet health-care jobs may provide more stability than factory and construction work, which tends to fluctuate with the economy. According to BLS data that are seasonally unadjusted, the unemployment rate for health-services employees was 6 percent in December, compared with 16 percent for construction.

According to Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center for Sustainable Health in Ann Arbor, Mich., every 10 jobs in health care ultimately generate an additional 12 elsewhere in the economy. If he’s right, then without the industry’s recent hiring growth, the unemployment rate would have been 9.5 percent in December, instead of 8.5 percent.
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