By Nikki Ciecierski
Michael Fry, the Director of Talent Acquisition and Compensation at Mount Nittany Health
In the competitive landscape of healthcare recruitment, attracting top talent requires looking beyond traditional strategies. Michael Fry, the Director of Talent Acquisition and Compensation at Mount Nittany Health, shared how the community-centric institution is thinking differently to recruit, retain and nurture top-tier staff.
Mission alignment and behavioral assessments
Mount Nittany Health's recruitment approach is tightly woven into its mission. According to Fry, "We are choosing the individuals that have alignment with the community and mission," he said. “We use talent data to ensure that top talent is skilled and aligned with our values of caring, excellence, integrity, respect, teamwork and stewardship. Behavioral assessments conducted at the time of application further assist in gauging how candidates match up with the roles.”
Fry stressed the importance of constant measurement. "As we use that approach, it gets stronger—we are constantly measuring ROI, cost/hire and looking back to see how we are successful and where we can improve," he continued.
A community-centric “boutique” approach
Being the community's hospital is a badge of honor for Mount Nittany Health. “The organization takes pride in its role as an independent community hospital,” Fry shared. “We have strategically focused on providing care tailored to the community's needs, making us financially sound and resourceful. We don’t have to do it like the rest of the healthcare industry. We can be boutique in how we staff and care for our community.”
“We use targeted advertising and aim for a large candidate pool when we begin recruiting for a position,” he said. “There are always shortages in medical and support staff, but we offer a facility that is in a great community, patient-centric and community-led. And that is often what candidates are looking for.”
Mount Nittany Health has proactively adapted to changing preferences in a market marked by shortages and intense competition. “Covid-19 brought a shift in what candidates sought, and we adjusted our strategies accordingly,” Fry said. “Previously, we were pretty grounded in the brick-and-mortar setting. Covid-19 introduced a new world of remote work, which became a welcomed response for higher-level niche-specific positions, enabling us to attract top talent not bound by geography.”
Recruitment strategies and collaborative relationships
Outside-the-box recruitment strategies have paid off for the organization. “The recruitment team has a lot of fun and has the freedom to be creative,” Fry said. “We took over a local mini-golf course and invited people who may be interested in working here. We played a couple of holes with them and talked about the organization and culture.”
“For about 12 months, the team has been holding a coffee house tour. They have been to many different counties and invited candidates for coffee and conversations about our positions,” he continued.
Mount Nittany Health has established robust relationships with educational institutions, ensuring a continuous talent pipeline. "We are very intentional in those partnerships," Fry explained. “We actively engage with local institutions, participating in events and sponsoring programs to attract and cultivate talent.”
Investment in nurturing talent doesn’t always start at the high school or collegiate level. "I spent a day at Spring Creek Elementary talking about EMTs, paramedics and RNs. We shared careers with these kids that might come to fruition in the long run, but for now, we are planting the seeds young," he continued.
Community appeal and amenities
The local community is pivotal in attracting medical professionals to Mount Nittany Health. “The unique blend of an international university, outdoor activities and a vibrant town becomes a compelling proposition for potential recruits,” Fry said. "We utilize the stature of our community in our recruiting. This is Happy Valley."
Isaiah Hahn is a Mount Nittany Health Endocrinology Physician Assistant and a Centre County native who has seen the value in this community. “I have been a resident of the Centre County area my whole life,” he said. “I feel privileged to be able to give back to a community that has given so much to me.”
Retaining top talent: a comprehensive approach
Once top talent is recruited, Mount Nittany Health employs a multifaceted strategy to ensure their satisfaction and longevity. “We use extended orientation periods, competitive wages, enhanced benefits packages, professional development opportunities and a focus on health and wellness to contribute to a positive work experience,” Fry explained. “We have an average tenure of 8.4 years, and that number has remained constant through the turbulence the world saw with Covid-19.”
Fry shared stories of travel nurses becoming permanent staff members and highlighted the community-centric culture that makes employees feel at home. "This place is a community. It is familial. Recently, a travel nurse in our ER has decided to make this her home. She knows the people and culture; we now don't have to recruit to fill that role. " Fry said.
“The teamwork among the staff at Mount Nittany Health stood out to me. Even as a traveler, I was never made to feel like I was an outsider, and I always knew I could count on others to help when needed.”
Danielle Luzier, RN, Emergency Department
Mount Nittany Health's success in attracting and retaining top medical talent is a testament to its strategic, community-focused approach. By aligning with its mission, embracing innovation and fostering strong partnerships, the organization has positioned itself as a healthcare destination where top talent thrives and the community benefits. As the healthcare landscape evolves, Mount Nittany Health stands as a beacon of effective talent management, proving that a genuine commitment to community and innovation can set an organization apart in the competitive healthcare recruitment field.