As the nation continued to deal with the pandemic fallout, a new problem was emerging. The Great Resignation has become the term coined to describe the higher-than-average quit rate of American workers in 2021, according to Investopedia. After The Great Resignation kicked off in July of 2021, many industries are still struggling to recover. For Lavania, as the need for new employees arose during this time, she was faced with new hurdles to overcome. “As we lost front desk employees, we discovered that there was this crazy level of inflation for employee salaries. That was a difficult realization since I had taken a pay cut and had relied heavily on relief funds and loans to stay afloat. Everyone received significant raises, but that wasn’t enough. It took a long time to find new office staff.”
Lavania’s troubles again echo the trends being seen by many other private practices and health systems alike. With the increased demand for skilled healthcare workers such as nurses and physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists, salaries are also trending upward, which presents a problem for any provider with a limited staffing budget, especially with the fierce competition for talent.
“The local hospitals are just able to offer perks that we can’t,” laments Lavania. “We had one staff member leave because the hospital offered her double her current salary and a four-day workweek. Finding a replacement took a long time. You feel the loss more in a small practice since there are not enough people to cross-cover.” The hiring process was moving at a snail’s pace as Lavania attempted to replace employees who left. “For every 20 who would apply for an open position, only two would show up for the interview. It was frustrating.”
At one point, Lavania, her nurse practitioner, and her skeleton crew of other staff were taking turns checking patients in at the front desk, working up sick visits, and much more, all while managing the Omicron surge and giving COVID vaccines to patients 5 and up. “We even had to send out an email blast to encourage patients to communicate via our patient portal because the phones were ringing non-stop and we could not handle the call volume,” recalls Lavania.