While the healthcare industry, in general, has faced ups and downs in the last few years, rural hospitals and health networks, specifically, continue to face the threat of closure. Many have struggled to meet their staffing goals, leaving them unable to comfortably serve the communities they’re based in. This has led to a lack of healthcare options in rural areas that is not only detrimental to patients, but to the healthcare system as a whole. While resolving the challenges these hospitals face is no easy feat, providing training and development opportunities to new and current staff can serve as an effective step forward and provide rural patients with the quality care they need and deserve.
The importance of rural hospitals
Rural hospitals are essential parts of their communities. While those in larger cities may have more than one hospital or healthcare system to choose from for medical care, people in rural areas rarely have a choice. There’s one hospital within a reasonable distance and that’s it. Often, the hospital is the only medical facility they have access to – not just for the ER, but for lab tests like x-rays and EKGs. When a rural hospital closes, people are forced to drive long distances for basic care.
Besides providing healthcare, rural hospitals are often one of the larger employers in a community. Without them, there is a deficit of good jobs – once again forcing people to go outside of their community for work.
If a hospital closes, the community basically loses access to healthcare and jobs, creating an environment that could be detrimental to the local economy.
Why are rural hospitals at risk?
While the threat to rural hospitals is nothing new, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 seemed to provide some financial relief thanks to federal grants designed to ensure hospitals remain open to handle the spread of COVID-19. However, as we’ve come out of a pandemic, the boost these hospitals received are beginning to fade. As it stands, nearly 30% of rural hospitals – about 600 in total – are at risk of being forced to close their doors in the near future. Almost every state has at least one hospital facing an uncertain future, which could deeply impact the quality – and availability – of healthcare.
There isn’t just one direct reason why rural hospitals are in danger of closure; after all, those in rural communities need reliable healthcare just as much as those in cities or the suburbs. Rising healthcare costs, the differences in private insurance payouts, occupancy rates, and worker shortages all have a part to play. While it may be more difficult to make an impact on how private insurers pay hospitals or other factors, you can influence your worker shortage. How? By offering training programs and education benefits to prospective employees.
How to train healthcare staff
Offering effective training to healthcare staff can be one way to make a positive impact on your hospital, solving for any staffing shortages and improving the quality of care your hospital offers. Through an online training platform like that offered by CareerStep, your new and current workers can develop skills and work toward certification around their work schedule – improving their skills while still getting their job done.
From EKG technician training to medical assistant training, you can offer a wide range of programs that fit the needs of your hospital! By offering training, you not only give dedicated workers a way to grow in their careers, but you can attract new employees. Since many workers today search for jobs that offer the potential for career advancement, having a strong education and training program in place can incentivize talented prospective employees to work in your hospital.
Strengthening rural hospitals through effective training
Staffing shortages aren’t the only issue plaguing rural hospitals, but by taking the first step toward solving that problem, you can see long-term, positive benefits. By training your current employees and offering them career pathways in healthcare, you can ensure that your workers are providing the highest quality of care possible. By providing high quality healthcare, you can attract more patients because the community is confident that they’ll get the care they need in your hospital. And, of course, by attracting more patients – especially those who have Medicare versus a private insurer – the hospital can increase the payouts they receive for patient care.
If you’re ready to take the first steps toward improving your hospital, strengthening your employees, and attracting new talent, reach out to our expert training team! They can help you determine which programs best fit your needs and make the process of offering education benefits to your employees a smooth, effective process.