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The concept and functions of human resources (HR) have changed significantly over the past 10 years. Hospitals have grown in complexity requiring high-functioning employee management systems, which have evolved so that HR is less a department and more a way of interacting with employees.

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Healthcare Evolution Requires Effective HR

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The rapid change occurring in healthcare today has important implications for human resource management in the healthcare organization. As healthcare reform evolves, there is increasing formation of corporations and integration of physician groups. The evolution of a mid-level care system, needed to bridge the gap left by too few primary care physicians and the ramp up to providing insurance for all, will add a higher level of complexity to an already complicated healthcare, HR system.

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While the value of HR, as a department, has been questioned in recent years, actually HR has never been more necessary. HR is no longer a department but more a function to ensure high-quality employee hiring and performance, which leads to high-quality outcomes. Popular awards such as “100 Best Places to Work” and the administration of the surveys that such awards are based on demonstrate the importance of highly functioning workplace in today's consumer-driven healthcare environment.

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Effective human resource management should create an environment that provides fairness, encourages productivity, and the attainment of goals and desired results, while ensuring individual rewards, recognition, and opportunities for growth.

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Personnel costs comprise the majority of a healthcare organizations operating budget, and the need to deliver high-quality care to a high-acuity patient population and ever-growing patient volumes establishes the need to ensure human resource management skills that are critical to today's healthcare delivery environment.

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HR in the ED

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For the frontline emergency physician, emergency nurse and emergency department (ED) directors (physician and nurse), engagement with HR is necessary to achieve departmental and hospital goals and to consistently provide feedback, encouragement, and coaching to ED staff.

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The ED is a complex environment, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ED comprises a professionally diverse team functioning in an open system environment. The ED leaders must pay consistent and thoughtful attention to human resource issues.

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This chapter outlines the functions essential to an ED leader's human resource management role. It includes

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  • Functional descriptions of external mandates
  • Internal philosophies
  • Specific ED staff needs

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The fully developed human resource functions include employment, compensation and benefits, policy development, and employee relations and training. Aligning these functions to the corporate business and strategic objectives of the organization and the department yields great value. In this sense, HR can take a proactive leadership role in helping organizations accomplish their objectives.1

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A Brief History of HR

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At the advent of HR as a separate entity, the role was one ...

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