A new approach to human resource management in hospitals
On May 7 Kyrgyzstan moved one step closer to a fundamental change in the way work is organized and staff are recruited in hospitals. At a meeting in Bishkek, members of a Ministry of Health working group presented the results of their work to develop tools and approaches to human resource management for the new Perinatal Center of the National Center for Maternity and Child Welfare, which is currently under construction.
For the first time in Kyrgyzstan, a systematic approach has been taken to determine how tasks will be distributed among teams, and which competencies are required to carry out those tasks. As a result, personnel will be recruited and selected on the basis of verified competencies and skills for positions which have clearly defined job descriptions. This will help to ensure that the services provided at the Center are of the highest quality, thereby contributing to saving the lives of women with severe pregnancy-related complications and premature or critically-ill babies.
The GIZ Promotion of Perinatal Health in Kyrgyzstan project, which works with the Ministry of Health to build the expertise of health workers who provide perinatal care services, has been providing technical support to the working group. Sandra Blackaby, a human resources professional with extensive international experience, has been supporting the working group in her capacity as an integrated expert at the National Center for Maternity and Child Welfare and the Ministry of Health. Blackaby’s position is organized through the Center for International Migration and Development (CIM).
High-quality, patient-centered care requires multidisciplinary teamwork
Women who are undergoing high-risk pregnancies and premature babies with low birth weight require specialized care in strict accordance with clinical standards. To successfully deliver this care, health facilities need to be staffed by the correct number and mix of clinical personnel, each with the right competencies, who can work as an integrated team to manage complex cases. Within these teams, each person’s role and responsibilities should be clearly defined.
This approach is currently lacking in most Kyrgyz hospitals. At present, there is no standard approach to reviewing the work of a team as a whole, developing job descriptions and competencies to support that work, and assessing candidates’ actual skills (as opposed to their formal qualifications). Human resource management systems, including support for career development, are also lacking. This negatively affects health workers’ motivation and performance, and indirectly influences the quality of care.
The establishment of the new Perinatal Center presents an opportunity to do things differently. On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Dr Kamchybek Uzakbaev, the Director of the National Center for Maternal and Child Health, expressed his appreciation to the members of the working group for their diligence. ‘We place great importance upon this new Perinatal Center,’ he said, ‘and human resources are central to this. Without the right people in place, it won’t work.’
A revolution in human resources
Over the past 18 months, the 10-member working group – comprising clinicians, lawyers and representatives of the hospital association – has systematically tackled the human resource framework for the new institution. It has mapped out roles and responsibilities in the new Perinatal Center, and how these roles work together to provide patient-centered care. It has developed job descriptions for both clinical and non-clinical positions and set up a ‘competency catalogue’ – divided into leadership, clinical, professional, core and basic competencies – required for each position.
To enable a fair and objective recruitment process, the working group also developed assessment tools, including a directory of competency-based interview questions, which will allow the panel to determine how well a candidate fulfills the competencies required of a given position.
After the meeting, Cholpon Asambaeva, the GIZ advisor responsible for the project’s work on human resources, reflected on the significance of introducing a competitive selection process via the new Perinatal Center. ‘If the approach proposed by the working group is adopted, this will ensure fairness, transparency and objectivity in the hiring process. The criteria which should count – knowledge, skills and experience – will count,’ she said. "What’s going on now is a kind of revolution’.
Sandra Blackaby, the human resources expert who has accompanied the process, added: ‘The Perinatal Center provides an opportunity for the Kyrgyz healthcare system to view human resources from a fresh perspective, because the structure is being built from scratch,’ she said. ‘We can implement new human resource approaches that not only serve the Perinatal Center, but which can be adapted to other perinatal care facilities as well.’