Vol. 11 •Issue 21 • Page 22
Nobody Knows the HIM Job Market Better
Stern & Associates Inc., Tampa, FL
Stern & Associates Inc. is a national health information management (HIM) recruiting firm headquartered in Tampa, FL.
ADVANCE recently spoke with President Michele Stern, RHIA, to find out about the comprehensive recruiting services the company offers its clients and candidates.
ADVANCE: Are you the exclusive founder of the company?
STERN: Certainly I had an integral part in the beginnings of Stern & Associates four years ago, given my background. However, my business partner, Max Mitchell and I, worked together to start the company. Max now serves as the chief executive/chief financial officer (CEO/CFO) of the firm.
ADVANCE: Do you offer services nationwide and what types of clients do you serve?
STERN: We have been a national company since the inception of Stern & Associates. In addition to our Tampa, FL, office on the East Coast, we’ve recently opened a West Coast office in Sechelt, British Columbia. Most of our clients are hospitals, from very large facilities to those with only 100 beds. We also service many large private consulting firms needing interim HIM directors and traveling HIM/coding consultants.
ADVANCE: What type of services do you offer your HIM clients?
STERN: We provide employment placement services for both health information professionals seeking new career opportunities and health care employers seeking to fill HIM positions throughout the nation. We serve as career advocates for our job-seeking candidates and provide industry-savvy recruiting services for health care employers all over the United States. We can be objective and independent. We make sure our clients are comfortable with the process and satisfied with the outcome.
ADVANCE: How do you find jobs for candidates?
STERN: We advertise in the HIM professional journals, and we also have an active Web page where candidates can submit a resume. Susan Brown, RHIA, senior vice president, Michael Ball, RHIA, senior recruiter, and I have been in the industry for more than 20 years and people either know us or recognize our names across the nation. This generates referrals just through “word of mouth.” During the past four years, we have developed a vast network of contacts. Many times we become aware of job openings before our clients’ human resources departments are even aware of them.
ADVANCE: How many employees do you have and what are their backgrounds?
STERN: Between the two offices, we have 15 employees. Surprisingly, the people who make good recruiters don’t necessarily need an extensive HIM background in this business. Generally, the individuals who excel at recruiting have an entrepreneurial outlook. They are self-motivated, self-disciplined, able to set personal and professional goals, are ambitious and hardworking, honest and direct. Some background in sales is a plus because they then understand how a salary plus commission pay structure works.
ADVANCE: Why would a health care facility contract a recruiting firm, rather than handling this function in-house?
STERN: A search assignment requires, on average, about 150 professional man-hours or more. That’s the equivalent of shutting down the client’s human resources department for three full weeks to hire a single employee. Stern & Associates can help drastically reduce the strain on their already overworked staff. We are contacted when the health care facility wants quality professionals and they choose not to spend their time, money and energy in conducting this search. They know that a recruitment firm can do it all for them for a one-time fee.
Collecting resumes is easy. What is more difficult is separating mere applicants from real, viable candidates. We uncover the skills, motivations and goals of a candidate before presenting them for the client’s consideration.
ADVANCE: How is your HIM recruiting service unique?
STERN: We are unique because we consider our recruiters to be “career counselors” rather than “headhunters.” We know that individual skill-sets are important, but just as important are matching individual personalities. The more aspects of the candidates’ personality that are matched to the client’s staff, the more satisfied both the candidate and client will be on the job.
ADVANCE: Does your firm have any future goals or a mission statement?
STERN: In terms of future plans, we will be expanding into executive roles within the health care industry and begin recruiting for the “C” positions in health care, such as CFOs, chief privacy officers (CPOs), chief information officers (CIOs), etc. Many of our HIM “five-star” candidates want to move into these positions, as well. We use our vision to anticipate trends and where people with HIM talents will be needed in the future.
Our mission is simple–we want to be our candidates’ career partner. Our industry is a very upwardly mobile profession. HIM professionals have no ceiling for what health care positions they might aspire to. We, as a company, want to help our candidates actuate the particular career journey they have charted for themselves.