The creation and implementation of a dual career path program can dramatically improve an organization’s staff retention rates. Most organizations offer only one track for advancement for employees, the entry into management. Employees choosing not to enter into management are often left with little or no opportunities to advance within the organization. Longer term employees who chose not to pursue management or for whom management is not a skill set they either possess or wish to acquire feel advancement is not possible and often choose to leave the organization. A dual career path program creates multiple opportunities for staff to develop outside of entering into management. Dual career path programs should be intentional and well planned, if done correctly dual career path programs can be mutually beneficial for both employers and employees.
Dual career paths can be especially beneficial for front line clinicians who, after several years in an organization, would like to advance and have some job diversity outside of direct clinical care. As an example, many organizations are implementing electronic record systems, an ideal individual to provide tech support, help choose, create or implement a system is a clinician who uses or will use the system on a daily basis. A dual career program allowing clinical staff to participate in these activities, obtain necessary certifications or training allows them to grow and advance and provides the organization with a technology workforce with “real life” experience with the system. Additionally, these staff have credibility with other clinicians in the organization a critical element in electronic records training and development.
It is critical that the creation of a dual career path program is not perceived by staff as work that is in addition to their current tasks, that the opportunities are replacing some current responsibilities and are meant to provide opportunities for professional growth and development. As part of the roll-out of a dual career program, job descriptions need to be created or changed, managers need to be trained and at times a dual reporting structure needs to be created. Thought needs to be paid to how responsibilities will be “back filled” as individuals take on dual roles. The Institute for Family Health has created multiple dual role positions in behavioral health, creating a model that allows for clinicians to be in direct care a self-sustaining amount of time and have a dual role in other areas. The creation of this dual career path model has allowed for many employees to pursue other roles and helped advance the organization in areas of technology, clinical care, research, publications, evidence-based practices and compliance. The Institute supports employees in these dual roles by supporting certifications and /or advanced training in the secondary role, a small cost in exchange for increased employee satisfaction.
Dual career path programs can be helpful for many organizations, creating opportunities for employees, improving an organizations ability to recruit and retain their workforce, especially employees with longevity. Dual career programs can be created in any area an organization identifies as a need or employees have expressed interest in. While often challenging to implement, the outcomes have proven beneficial for both employers and employees.