Nurses, physiotherapists, paramedics, administators The Hospital Authority To run Hong Kong's public hospitals, the Hospital Authority needs over 60,000 staff, of which seven to eight per cent need replacing every year because of turnover, retirement and the opening of new services. 'We are like a town and a community in a very real sense. You get to explore and discover it for yourself when you join,' says Dr Derrick Au, head of human resources at the Hospital Authority. The authority hires in both clinical and non-clinical categories. Nursing positions have had a shortage of applicants worldwide, and Au says it has been an uphill battle to get the right numbers every year. A number of new nursing schools have opened recently, however, and with it taking four years to train a nurse, the situation should improve in the next couple of years. 'We are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel,' says Au. Apart from the need for about 20,000 nurses, there is a large variety of other jobs available. Paramedics - called 'allied health professionals' in Hong Kong - such as therapists, medical social workers and dieticians total some 7,000 staff, a number the authority needs to keep steady. More than 12,000 support staff work in wards, intensive care units, operating theatres and various other locations. There is also a variety of jobs on offer for administrative staff working in the authority's 38 hospitals. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, executive assistants at the authority's offices and patient-care assistants at local hospitals are also all needed. 'We have reformed and built up the grade structure for supporting staff who work in the wards,' Au says. 'We try to be proactive in thinking how to make job opportunities more attractive.' Teamwork is an important requirement for staff and, as in all good teams, respect needs to be given to superiors, colleagues and patients alike. Excellent communication skills are also needed. Public hospitals offer an extremely fast-paced service and employees need to develop their communication skills to be efficient, but at the same time reliable and caring. Au looks for nurses and allied health professionals who are curious about developing themselves and are interested in sophisticated special areas. English is also an important job requirement as almost all medical records are in English. Most staff can also speak Putonghua quite well. New staff are given orientation sessions, followed by a reinforcement period with mentors through workplace supervision. Continuing professional development includes refreshment courses as well as department-specific training.