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Recruitment pays off for Tupelo hospital

TUPELO — Rodger Brown, vice president for human resources, North Mississippi Health Services, is proud to head up HR for an organization with 6,200 employees that is one of the top three largest private sector employers in the state. He is even more proud of the crowning achievement of NMHS in winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards in 2012.

healthcare8_1There are only four such awards given each year in the U.S., and NMHS won in the health care category. The award given out by the U.S. Commerce Department is “the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.”

“One of the things that we do that is part of the Baldrige criteria is a five-year HR recruitment plan,” Brown said. “We try to project the number of employees and the skill sets needed over the next five years so we can develop a recruitment plan to meet demands of various departments. We factor in turnover, new services and growth. We are constantly looking at nursing, pathology, pharmacy, clerical and support services, as well as other key areas. It is vitally important to do that so we have the right staff at the right time to meet the needs of patients.”

NMHS, which owns and operates multiple hospitals including the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, has a staff retention rate of 93 percent. A retention and recruitment committee helps foster an environment that makes people want to stay with the organization.

“Retention is very important to us,” Brown said. “Our turnover is seven percent. Our retention and recruitment committee looks at employee engagement and employee satisfaction to insure we do have a great workforce.”

NMHS does local, regional and national recruitment. It works with all the educational institutions in the state, and especially with Itawamba Community College, the Mississippi University for Women and the University of Mississippi.

“We partner with key colleges to make sure we have adequate staff graduating,” Brown said. “We are the clinical and administration training site for more than 300 programs nationwide. On any given year, we have about 1,200 students in our facility. We know if we can get someone to come to a clinical rotation here, it tremendously increases our opportunity to recruit him or her. It gives students a chance to look at us, and us a chance to look at the students.”

NMHS has a physician residency program for family practice, and is about to start a nurse practitioner residency plan in partnership with MUW.

There are shortages for health care professionals across the nation, so recruitment is an important issue.

“Physician recruitment is certainly a challenge just due to the national demand put on healthcare right now,” Brown said. “We have two full-time physician recruiters, and are in a constant state of recruiting physicians. A number of years ago, we created our own physician residency program — a three-year program with eight physicians each year, giving us a total of 24 here at any moment in time. Most of them stay in our service area, which certainly helps meet our needs. But we also have to do a lot more recruiting than that.”

Before coming to health care, Brown did HR work in the furniture business. In some ways the work is very similar.

“Yet it is different because the mission of the organization is trying to improve the health of people,” he said. “Instead of manufacturing something, you are dealing with people’s lives and people at their most vulnerable times.”

Brown started work at NMHS in 1978 as personnel employment supervisor, and was named director of human resources in 1980. He was promoted to vice president in 1990. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in personnel management and business administration in accounting from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is currently president of the Mississippi chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Brown said it is an inspiration to work for an organization that truly puts people first.

“It is just a great relationship we have with all our employees in the state,” he said. “This job allows me to truly be able to practice my profession, just like a physician being able to practice his or her profession. I’ve been able to design recruitment programs, compensation systems, recognitions system, benefits system, and training and development systems. So over the years I have been able to actually do everything I learned learn in school, and that is pretty remarkable.”

For leisure time, Brown and his wife, Diane, love to spend time with their children and six grandchildren, and enjoy travel including mission trips to other countries.

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