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Tips for hiring students in your medical practice

By Shannon Geis
December 22, 2016
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Human Resource Management

If you are looking for some extra help around your practice, there are issues you should consider when hiring high school or college students.

An MGMA member recently asked for advice on hiring high school students in a MGMA Member Community thread, and many responses encouraged the practice.

“We hired high school students at a practice in Georgia,” said Kim Powell, MBA, CMPE, MGMA member, director of managed care, P&S Surgical Hospital, Monroe, La. “There were legal limits on the number of hours they could work and permits that we had to get from school during the school year, but none of this was difficult. We found them all to be motivated and willing to work.”

Many high school students who are interested in pursuing healthcare as a career are looking for opportunities to get experience, says Lisa Kilawee, MGMA member, regional vice president, Caravan Health, Amherst, Wis. “I don’t think you will have a hard time finding applicants. In many communities it is difficult to get any healthcare employment or volunteer experience. We actually have too many volunteers,” she says.

Kilawee recommends contacting local HOSA chapters or other organizations and clubs geared toward students interested in healthcare. “Many of these organizations help coordinate opportunities and can assist with the process of background checks, immunization documentation and TB testing,” says Kilawee.

For students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, having real-world experience can make all the difference during the college and medical school application process. “Any healthcare experience people can get is a good thing,” says Kilawee.

Another option to consider is partnering with a local vocational school. “We have medical assistant students come into the office for placement and/or co-op. These students are very motivated, intelligent young ladies. If they are here on placement, there is no salary involved. If we hire on co-op, they are paid employees. The school provides all the necessary paperwork for these students to work in our office,” says Monique Pavao, CMPE, MGMA member, practice manager, Dartmouth Dermatology, Dartmouth, Mass. “We have even hired several of the girls to work during the holidays and in the summer. It definitely has been a win-win for us.”

Regardless of whether the students are in high school or college, volunteers or paid employees, you will need to make sure they are trained on HIPAA regulations and meet all of the other requirements of a typical employee. “We do this quite often during the summer and long holiday breaks. We hire the students as irregular employees, and they are required to take HIPAA training and show proof of immunization and current TB test prior to starting with us,” says Karen Fields, MSHA, MGMA member, executive director, Department of Neurology, UABMC, Birmingham, Ala. “As long as they are not in our actual ‘wet labs,’ we have not had any problems.”

Before you decide to hire, make sure you check the Department of Labor’s regulations for workers under the age of 18, as well as your state’s rules, which may be more stringent.

Shannon Geis, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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