How Can Your HR Department Help You?

How Can Your HR Department Help You?

Nurses help people all day long. Whether it’s a colleague who needs a hand or a patient who needs support, a nurse will evaluate what’s needed and find a way to make that happen.

But when nurses need something, they are frequently reluctant to ask for help. But a nurse’s human resources (HR) department can help with professional help and often has extensive assistance available. One of the most important tasks a nurse can complete professionally is to have a thorough awareness and understanding of what an HR department offers. a stethoscope over a face mask and with a graphic heartbeat image for HR week

Here are a few things to consider when you need help from HR:

Know Your Benefits
Benefits are much more than health insurance and vacation time. Benefits encompass everything from short- and long-term disability to wellness reimbursements to parental leave policies. The HR benefits manual or explanations your organization has on file are worth reading and understanding. There could be hidden discounts that you aren’t aware of or nuances to emergency time off that you should familiarize yourself with. Your benefits can help you pay for additional education and might have excellent professional development resources you weren’t aware of.

Understand What Happens in an Emergency
Nurses know that life can change in a second. So if something happens in your own life that can impact your job attendance or performance, you shouldn’t have to scramble to find out what you need to do. Does your company have a waiting policy before you take any kind of disability? What happens if you need time to recover from a health emergency? If a family member needs your care, does your organization have any time available for you to take off to help? You’ll want to know about bereavement time as well.

Determine the Complaint Process
No one likes to have problems at work, and it’s a frequent reason that employees leave companies. Whether it’s a problem with a colleague, a supervisor, an annual review process, salary questions, or a scheduling issue, resolving it to your satisfaction is important. It might not always be possible, but understanding how your HR department deals with complaints is good information to have.  Is there an ombudsperson or a neutral mediator in your organization who can help?

Figure Out Retirement Options
Good retirement options are a key part of any benefits package, but it’s up to you to know what it includes and how it can best apply to your own situation. No matter how close to or far away from retirement you are, having a good understanding of what is offered will pay off in the long term. Does your company offer a retirement plan? Is there a retirement match and is there a minimum employee contribution required? What happens if you need help with making decisions? All of these are questions you can pose to HR to find out how any of the offered benefits can increase your own retirement savings. And if you are close to retirement age, it helps to understand the process for when you want to retire. If there are timelines involved or steps you will need to take as you ready for retirement, you will need to work with HR for a smooth transition.

HR departments offer so much information that employees might not be aware of. Take the time to find out what might be available for you.

Why Nurses Should Consider Human Resource Roles

Why Nurses Should Consider Human Resource Roles

Despite roots stretching far back into history, nursing has only been a recognized profession for a little more than a century. While the nursing industry has made great strides since that time, it primarily remains the realm of white females. Just over 9% of registered nurses (RNs) are male, and minorities only make up about 20% of the nation’s total number of RNs.

Nursing’s lack of diversity is problematic on its own, and minority nurses may find that the diversity issue is compounded when the time comes for a career change. So what happens when seasoned nurses are ready to expand their employment horizons? Some LPNs and RNs may choose to tread the path of primary care, re-enrolling in medical school and working towards a doctorate. For others, the realm of human resources may be an attractive option.

Individuals from historically underrepresented groups are a great choice for roles within health care-related human resources management and administration. That’s because minorities are more likely to bring the topics of diversity and inclusion to center stage. And when the importance of diversity is emphasized at the managerial level, everyone benefits, from patients to providers and educators.

Discrimination in the Health Care Industry

As most people of color are well aware, discrimination is still a major social issue in 2020. And this discrimination can happen everywhere, from social settings to the workplace and beyond. Although federal law prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race, religion, and disability, more diversity is needed within the health care industry, especially in the field of nursing.

That’s because nurses are essentially the foundation of quality care and healing. Further, they act as liaisons to primary care physicians and specialists, often serving as the voices of their patients. Patients from all walks of life deserve to feel as though they’re represented within the field of nursing.

By fostering a more inclusive environment, human resource managers in hospitals and clinics may be able to bridge the gaps, at least where health care for minority groups is concerned. And make no mistake, there is a glaring disparity among minority populations. According to a 2014 study published in Public Health Reports, “diabetes care, maternal and child health care, adverse events, cancer screening, and access to care are just a few examples in which persistent disparities exist for minority and low-income populations.”

Human Resources, Inclusion, and Diversity

So how does human resources fit into the equation? At their core, nursing and human resource management have a lot in common. After all, providing compassionate interactions with a diverse group of individuals is a major component of both career paths. Yet where nurses typically only deal with patients and their immediate colleagues on a daily basis, HR managers must also deal with the business side of health care as well.

For example, health care HR managers must address industry trends and set the standards for ethical practices within their facility. They may oversee digital recruitment and hiring, while also keeping patient needs at the forefront of their mind and even addressing legal situations that may arise. It’s a multifaceted job that requires knowledge, patience, and discipline as well as compassion.

A nurse who is interested in becoming an HR manager in health care should prepare to be challenged. You’ll need plenty of experience under your belt, as well as strong communication, organization, and computer skills. To get an edge over the competition, you may also want to consider pursuing an advanced degree in health administration.

Prospective HR professionals should also take note that speed and accuracy are paramount to the job, as they are in the field of nursing. Computer skills are a vital component of the job, and HR managers should have a strong grasp of technology and tools such as open-source software that allows you to quickly sign forms online, from invoices to payroll and hiring documents. Even in our digital age, most health care facilities leave a significant paper trail.

Workplace Discrimination

Unfortunately, sometimes that paperwork can stem from an unpleasant situation, such as legal action against your health care facility. Even when great care is taken to ensure that the most vigilant professionals are employed at a facility, that fact doesn’t always guarantee a safe and inclusive work environment. Thus, even the best HR managers may end up on the receiving end of a workers’ compensation claim.

While most workers’ compensation claims involve physical injuries, a hostile work environment could indeed be grounds for a lawsuit, especially if management was aware of the problem. And although workplace stress isn’t grounds for a workers’ comp claim, work-related trauma injuries may be. If the discrimination was serious enough to be deemed traumatic, the injured worker may indeed be entitled to compensation. As an HR manager, it’s your duty to help foster a more inclusive work environment where discrimination has no place.

This becomes even more important when you yourself are one of the very minorities who is often overlooked for leadership positions such as HR management. Nursing leadership means making connections with your staff, one of the best ways to prevent discriminatory practices is by modeling inclusion and diversity in your workplace. Do this in your hiring practices, in your relationships with your employees, in your interactions with clients; it will trickle down.

Final Thoughts

Advocating for diversity is extremely important when it comes to social justice, but it can be a fine line to tread in the workplace. Within the health care industry, minorities should try to take on leadership roles, such as in management and HR, in order to help build a more inclusive environment where patients and providers alike can feel safe, respected, and represented.

How to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

How to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

Many people believe their resume is the only part of an application that human resources focuses on. Although a properly crafted resume can make or break an applicant, the cover letter really makes you stand out.

Cover letters serve an important purpose for the job hunter. The cover letter shows the employer that you are the best candidate for the job. There are specific aspects you need to include in your cover letter to catch the eye of the hiring manager. 

Incorporate these tips in your next cover letter to grab the attention of your future employer!

Address the letter to the hiring manager.

Use some researching skills to find out the name of the hiring manager (or recruiter) for the position you are applying for. This will make your application stand out since you have actually gone through the trouble of obtaining this information. No one likes the generic, “To Whom It May Concern” salutation. 

Use the company name at least twice in the body of your letter.

Your opening statement should say something like “I am inquiring about the (insert job position here) at (company name). You can also mention the company name later in the letter when you explain why you would be the best candidate for the job.

Highlight your most pertinent experience related to the job you are applying for.

Customize each cover letter for each job you apply to. This may mean highlighting your ICU experience when applying to an outpatient infusion center or emphasizing your charge nurse experience for a management position. 

Show enthusiasm.

Employers love to hire people who show enthusiasm for a position. You can show enthusiasm by the tone of your cover letter. Don’t make the cover letter generic for every job you apply for. Show your interest by researching the company and mentioning something about them in your cover letter. This could be something like, “I know XYZ company values empowering individuals to improve their health, and I do too. In a past position I have served as a wellness nurse educating people on making positive changes in their life.” 

Close strong.

After you have convinced the hiring manager why you are the best candidate for the job you need a call to action to end the letter. Don’t be afraid to say you are looking forward to hearing from them about the position. You could use the line, “I am confident I can be a valuable asset to XYZ company, and I look forward to discussing my qualifications and experience with you in greater depth.”

In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at for more ideas on how to reinvent your career.

Image credit:  iStockphoto