Health Carousel was featured in the August Issue of Cap Today Magazine in an article titled, Looking for Lab Staff Here, There, and Overseas.
HNL Lab Medicine in Allentown, Pa., began working with Health Carousel, a staffing agency, about a year and a half ago to recruit technologists from overseas. At the time, the laboratory had opened two new hospital-based labs and had 25 technologist openings, says Joshua Kubat, director of human resources. “We were looking at short-term solutions—what can we do right now to get by—but also what can we do long term to try to solve this problem of more medical technologists retiring than coming into the field,” Kubat says. “Once I reached out to them [Health Carousel] and looked at their program and what they had to offer, it made sense both from a financial aspect and in terms of building a pipeline for the future.”
The interview process for the overseas candidates was “fairly seamless,” Kubat says. “Our managers were able to get a good feel for the applicants’ skills and the type of lab they’re working in now.” Interviews were conducted virtually and consisted of two rounds—one with human resources and another with the management team for the lab section that was hiring. The laboratory’s biggest need is for generalists, he says, “so we were looking at hematology, chemistry, coagulation, and blood bank.” Everyone interviewed had at least two years of experience.
Health Carousel began recruiting medical professionals from outside the U.S. and easing their immigration in 2004, working primarily with registered nurses and physical therapists. The company began recruiting medical technologists in 2010, and since then has placed about 75 in laboratories throughout the U.S., says Erik Schumann, MBA, chief operating officer. More than 100 have completed the credentialing and immigration processes and are being interviewed by Health Carousel customers (and can be in the U.S. within 12 months, he says), and the company’s goal is to triple that number.
Health Carousel works predominantly with acute care hospitals, Schumann says. “And those health systems typically have their own lab requirements. Oftentimes the relationship starts from us working with a potential customer for nurses,” which then extends to the laboratory.
The company, which has about 35 laboratory customers, handles all aspects of the immigration and visa process, he says, and determines that applicants have the proper credentials and licensure. All applicants must have their ASCPi or AMT certification to apply. Health Carousel assists applicants with the VisaScreen credentials assessment, which includes an evaluation of the applicant’s education, verification that all professional health care licenses the applicant holds are valid, and an English language proficiency exam, for which the company helps applicants prepare. “The goal is to make it easy for the health care professional and the organizations we work with,” Schumann says.
Laboratories that use those services are guaranteed a three-year placement. The technologists are employees of Health Carousel during that time, but about 85 percent convert to full-time employees for the organization in which they’re placed after the three-year assignment has ended. The other 15 percent tend to move to another location in the U.S. to find work, he says. Customers pay a per-hour work fee, which varies by the U.S. Department of Labor’s prevailing wage for the geographic area in which the customer is based and the area’s cost of living. “The hourly rate we charge the health care provider is all-inclusive,” he says. “It covers all required taxes, insurance, benefits, licensure, and immigration costs.” The company operates in all 50 states.
The technologists from abroad are recruited primarily from the Philippines because the curriculum there follows the U.S. model and applicants tend to have high levels of English proficiency. All applicants complete a standardized profile indicating in what lab units they have experience. “During the interview, the client can probe to see if they have the necessary skills and explore different aspects of their experience,” Schumann says. “But we do focus on nine lab areas, including hematology, histology, blood bank, micro, urinalysis, and others.” There’s no limit on the number of technologists a lab can request, he says, but three to five per lab is typical. The full recruitment-to-placement process takes about 18 to 24 months.
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