Human Resource Management in Health Care

smiling nurse leader in a meeting with paperwork on their desk

The Role of Human Resource Management in Health Care

A hospital wouldn’t function without the dedicated professionals who work in it. As the U.S. faces an increasing shortage of nurses and physicians, hiring and retaining skilled employees is increasingly challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the shortage, straining resources while causing nurse burnout. For health care providers, retaining staff reflects directly on a facility’s ability to deliver optimal patient care.

Professionals responsible for human resource management in health care can develop strategies for career development and retention of quality employees along with encouraging teamwork and patient-focused care. By earning an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis on leadership, nurses interested in roles within human resources or those in supervisory positions responsible for staff can build the knowledge and skills required to cultivate a positive work environment and improve patient outcomes.

Health care human resource managers have various roles and responsibilities that can shape the way that a team or an organization functions. By creating scheduling, safety, and education programs sensitive to the unique situations of medical professionals, human resource managers can support practitioners in their current roles and prepare them for long-term professional growth. Building a strong workplace culture that encourages employees to care for themselves as well as their patients increases employee retention and improves patient outcomes over time.

While health care human resource managers share many responsibilities with their counterparts in other sectors, they also address industry-specific issues:

  • Managing nurse and physician burnout
  • Balancing long and often unpredictable hours
  • Providing medical and trauma-related mental health support
  • Measuring success in relation to patient outcomes as opposed to economics
  • Providing additional hospital or medical training and development

In addition to core duties such as employee hiring and retention, health care human resource managers must know industry-specific regulations such as licensing requirements. 

Nurse Leaders and Human Resource Management

Good human resources managers should be skilled in communicating with and understanding the individuals with whom they work. In health care, an advantage of nurse leaders taking on human resources roles is their foundational knowledge of the issues that other medical professionals face.

Nurses who work in human resource management roles understand the pressures, burnout, and high-stress situations that their colleagues face and can often better advise or provide them with the appropriate resources. This empathy helps them foster relationships and build nurturing work environments that encourage employee development and retention as well as improved patient outcomes.

While nurses can draw from personal experience in their organizations, pursuing a certificate or an advanced degree in human resources can help them hone their skills into management roles. By developing organizational and administrative skills through leadership-focused higher education, nurses can learn how to build systems that help their fellow practitioners and address care organizations’ specific needs. 

The Challenges of Human Resource Management in Health Care

The challenges that human resource managers in health care face are often complex and can greatly affect patient care delivery. One of the most pressing issues for health care organizations is the shortage of nurses and physicians. Factors contributing to the shortage include America’s quickly aging population.

A main concern of human resource managers is providing resources to nursing staff, such as access to mental health care, support groups, and sustainable working hours, while simultaneously implementing programs to recruit additional employees. Addressing these issues is a balancing act — ensuring that a facility’s care delivery capabilities aren’t negatively affected, while nurses and physicians receive the needed help and support.

The ability to communicate effectively, manage complex operations, think strategically, and make evidence-based decisions is critical for nurse leaders who choose to take on human resources management roles. Nurses can develop these skills and techniques by pursuing an advanced degree. 

Caring for Those Who Deliver Care

Human resource management in health care plays an instrumental role in ensuring adequate staff levels for the optimal delivery of patient care. By building a positive environment where staff work together, collaborate on patient-focused care, and grow professionally, human resource managers can better retain nurses and physicians to improve medical outcomes.

For nurse leaders looking to gain the knowledge and skills required to take on the role and responsibilities of human resource management, pursuing an advanced degree, such as Norwich University’s online MSN with a Healthcare Systems Leadership concentration, could serve as a stepping stone to reach their professional goals. With classes capped at 15 students and where students can graduate in 18 months on average, Norwich aims to set you up for success. Discover how you can make a positive impact with an MSN today.


Nursing Shortage, National Center for Biotechnology Information 
How Does Human Resource Management Affect the Success of a Health Care Organization?, Houston Chronicle 
In Healthcare, a Happy Staff Makes for Healthy Patients, Cornerstone 
Human Resources Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 
Certification in Healthcare Human Resources (CHHR), American Society for Health Care Human Resources Administration 
The Health Care Industry’s Top HR Challenges, Society for Human Resource Management 
AAMC Report Reinforces Mounting Physician Shortage, Association of American Medical Colleges 
Hospitals Face a Shortage of Nurses as COVID Cases Soar, NPR