SUSPICIOUS HIRING PRACTICES AT THE HOSPITAL IN GRAČANICA: Unsuccessful candidates from previous vacancy advance by 20 points in one year

The former director acknowledges that the vacancy process could have been fairer, while a member of the recruitment commission cannot recall its composition. The lawyer representing the aggrieved parties highlights numerous legal infractions, emphasizing that performance in the oral exam holds greater significance than seniority and qualifications.

Author: Slađan TOMIĆ  

 Over the past three years, the General Hospital “Dr. Mustafa Beganović” in Gračanica has twice advertised identical vacancies for the recruitment of nurses/technicians. The most recent vacancy, announced last year, aimed to fill six positions for nurse/medical technician roles.

Curiously, the candidates’ prior work experience held no significance for the commission, and neither recommendations nor seniority factored into the scoring process. Instead, only performance in the oral exam was assessed, leading to numerous irregularities and questionable grading practices.

Consequently, four candidates have initiated private lawsuits against those responsible for the hiring of six employees for permanent positions.

From the bottom to the top

Adin Nalić is among the candidates who feel aggrieved, believing that he has suffered harm, particularly noting that individuals who ranked lower than him in the previous year’s vacancy procedure were rated more favorably. His initial application to the General Hospital in Gračanica was in 2022, where he secured the 8th position with 24 points. Subsequently, he obtained a part-time position as an anesthesiologist in the hospital’s operating room.

Nalić: The oral part of the exam didn’t seem right to me because I noticed that the commission members were not taking notes. I believe they should have recorded my scores during the examination

– Just to have my contract cancelled after all commendations and recommendations. Following this, the disputable vacancy in 2023, which was suspicious from the outset, was advertised– said Nalić for adding that he applied for the vacancy again.

He once again finished in 8th place for this vacancy. He noted that the questions were identical to those from before, and since he had already answered them, he anticipated an increase in his score.

True to his expectations, he saw a slight improvement of 0.66 points.

– All candidates who ranked below me in the previous vacancy were now 10 points ahead of me. During the oral exam, I was not informed of the number of points I received. The questions were the same as those from the previous vacancy, and there were also legal questions unrelated to my profession– said Nalić. 

The ranking list of those recruited in the most recent vacancy. Mirela Halilčević, who secured the top position in the 2023 vacancy procedure, obtained 29.33 points, a significant increase from her previous score of 23 points just a year earlier. Edina Čalić, the second-ranked candidate in the recent vacancy procedure, scored 29 points, nearly 10 points higher than her previous score of 19.33. Within a year, she progressed from 33rd place to become the second-ranked candidate, earning her a permanent position as a nurse. Selma Selimović also secured the position, achieving 28.33 points in 2023 compared to 19.66 points just a year earlier. Similarly, Irmana Devedžić made significant progress, increasing her score by nearly 10 points from 18.66 points in 2022 to 27.66 points in 2023.


New vacancy, new rules: Final list

Nalić: It all looks like corruption

Despite his experience gained while working in a hospital during this period, Nalić advanced by less than a point. All of this raises suspicions of irregularities. According to Nalić, there were claims that certain candidates would be hired even before the vacancy procedure ended. In an interview for, he expressed confusion over how some candidates advanced by as much as 10 points while he only advanced by less than one.

– I am puzzled by how they managed to progress. If I outperformed them in the 2022 vacancy based on certain criteria, I would expect to have performed even better now with the additional experience and recommendations I provided. It seems, according to their reasoning, that these candidates excelled in the oral exam, which was identical to the one in the last vacancy. It all sounds rather suspicious to me – said Nalić.

In addition to completing medical school, Nalić’s CV also includes a six-month training program as an anesthesiologist. However, this additional qualification did not seem to have helped him in this procedure.

The members of the commission responsible for evaluating the candidates were: Imad Mustafić, Jasmin Alić, and Semir Alibegović. We sought clarification from them regarding how points were scored and how decisions were made.

Did you go to a college?

However, obtaining this information has proven to be quite challenging. Mustafić did not respond to our calls, Alibegović mentioned that he would contact us after obtaining approval from the director, and the only individual willing to engage in conversation was Alić.

Alić highlighted that he finds it unsurprising that in two identical vacancy procedures, some candidates experienced setbacks while others advanced by as much as 10 points.

–  Let me tell you, did you go to a college? You know how it goes—you take the exam today, study for the next term, and that’s it. These questions aren’t particularly difficult; they’re everyday questions that you need in your work. I graduated from medical school, from the medical faculty. I’m well-versed in both issues, having worked in this field for 12 years, and I am not politically active. I am the last person they should ask about politics because I have suffered a lot due to the political turmoil surrounding us – said Alić.

Director: I wish the vacancy had been more fair

The last, and arguably the most controversial, vacancy was announced under the tenure of then-director Zijad Merdanović, who expressed to that being in the role of director was something he would rather have avoided, considering it the most challenging period of his life.

Merdanović acknowledges that dissatisfaction among candidates is common in recruitment processes. While he took charge of advertising the vacancy, he claims to have refrained from influencing the selection of candidates. Although he personally selected the commission, he remains uncertain about the commission’s effectiveness in carrying out its duties.

– Whether the commission performed optimally is now up for debate. Complaints, as always, were raised. They were even discussed by the Managing board and ultimately dismissed. Admissions are invariably a contentious issue; irregularities are often alleged. While I cannot assure there were none, the commission fulfilled its duties and yielded results. Ultimately, the decision to accept or reject lies with the director  – said Merdanović.

He responded affirmatively when asked if he found the fluctuations in the candidates’ scores somewhat unusual.

– It is a bit unusual. However, a student may perform well on an exam the first time and poorly on a subsequent attempt. While it’s not a rule, it’s certainly a bit unusual. uncommon. I was wondering about that myself – said Merdanović.

He laments that only the oral exam was taken into account, rather than previous experience, additional education, and diplomas.

– As to whether there was any pressure exerted on individuals, I cannot say. I wasn’t part of that. I have heard that there are skilled medical professionals who didn’t pass, and their colleagues believe that they should have been employed. Unfortunately, the positive reputation they earned through their work doesn’t seem to count for anything here  – said Merdanović honestly.

Why did the director resign?

He informed  us that he left position of the director because of stories like this.

– We cannot guarantee that everything was done “lege artis” (Latin for: according to the rule of art). I won’t say it was or wasn’t. I hope it was fair, but even in fairness, there will always be dissatisfied individuals. It’s only natural even if it was the fairest procedure ever – said Merdanović who was the director at time the vacancy was advertised and six medical professionals were recruited.

Four candidates who didn’t make it to the top six in the ranking list and consequently were not hired, filed a lawsuit against the hospital. Their lawyer, Una Harčin Šabić, informed that the vacancy procedure didn’t adhere to the regulations outlined in the cantonal rules for public sector employment.

– The final lists and the candidates’ point totals have been released. However, it remains unclear how each candidate received their points and what criteria were used, particularly when we know what documentation was required and how the interview stage of procedure was done – said Harčin Šabić.

What is the commission’s job

She believes that the commission’s composition was inadequately determined. Candidates also expressed discomfort with being evaluated for the medical technician position by two doctors and one lawyer.

Merdanović, who appointed the commission, asserts that the primary issue was the reluctance of hospital employees to participate as commission members, so its completion was very difficult.

– Chief nurses were offered to be part of the commission, but none were willing to participate. They were aware that everyone would be called out, and then you need to find someone, and you find two doctors to select medical technicians. It would be of course be more logical to have nurses in the commission, but no one was willing to do it–  said Merdanović.  

They did not have the right to review the evaluation.

Candidates who feel they have been harmed view the oral exam as a breeding ground for manipulation, particularly because, as they allege, they were not granted the right to review the evaluation.

– The oral exam seemed irregular to me because I observed that the commission members didn’t write down anything on the papers, and I expected them to record the scores while interviewing me. I suspect that they done it all afterwards. Additionally, they failed to inform me, as they should have before concluding the exam, about the points I attained – claims Nalić.

What is in the Regulation?

The regulation on the employment procedure in the public sector in the Tuzla Canton emphasizes transparency as the guiding principle for commission members, a principle that was not upheld in this specific case.

– Commission members must operate with independence, impartiality, and adhere to principles of transparency and legality as outlined in this Regulation – reads Article 8, paragraph 7 of the Regulation.

Nalić highlights that after filing his appeal, he only gained access to his documentation, not to that of the other successful candidates.

– I was not provided with an explanation of how I attained 24.66 points and ended up in the 8th position again, despite all the qualifications I acquired during those two years since the initial vacancy, including experience, commendations, and recommendations – said Nalić.

The former director also confirms that candidates were only granted access to their own scores, not those of other candidates.

– They could see their scores, not the scores of others. I don’t know if they have legal right to do so. However, they could review their scores  – said Merdanović. 

The regulation provides for the right of inspection of the documentation

According to the Regulation, a candidate has the right to request access to documentation, except for documentation relating to the personal data of other candidates. The number of points or the method of allocating points should certainly not be considered personal data.

One of the commission members states that the claims of non-transparency are not accurate.

– It is not true. Everything was transparent. There were few applications that were not successful – said Alić.

According to the lawyer representing the aggrieved parties, the right to inspection is not only prescribed by the Regulation but also serves as a crucial factor in understanding the vacancy results.

– If we don’t know the basis upon which such a high number of points is achieved, then this lack of transparency, coupled with the failure to inform candidates about the criteria for scoring, raises doubts about the fairness and legality of the entire vacancy procedure. Without access to the awarded points, it becomes unclear how the points were allocated. For instance, when comparing the lists, we see figures like 0.5, 0.3, or 0.33. How can someone be awarded 0.33 when the documentation, work experience, and criteria for employment are clearly specified- wonders Harčin Šabić.

Was secretary of the commission appointed?

During the candidate selection process, the recruitment commissions must have a secretary responsible for administrative and legal tasks. However, it remains unclear if the secretary was ever appointed.

– The composition of the commission was not properly determined. Additionally, the secretary of the commission, who was supposed to be a law graduate, was not appointed. However, one of the commission members was a law graduate. This raises questions about how a law graduate can be member of the commission conducting examination if the Regulations clearly specifies who can be member of the commission. This becomes particularly concerning considering that a law graduate has no relevance to the medical profession– said Harčin Šabić.

A member of the commission doesn’t remember

It is interesting how one of the three commission members, Jasmin Alić, doesn’t remember if he had technical assistance in the recruitment process.

– Secretary? I will have to check. It was a three-member commission. I am not sure about the secretary, and I will have to check  – said Alić in his response to

On the other hand, the former director asserts that he appointed the secretary of the commission as it was his obligation.

– They claim that there wasn’t the secretary, but I wasn’t there. I appointed the secretary, a woman from the PR department. It would have made sense if the secretary had been that law graduate who was a member of the commission – said Merdanović. 

Many aspects of this case lack logic. For Harčin Šabić, many things are also illegal.

– Additionally, what was not conducted according to the procedure is that when the candidates raised complaints to the decisions by which they were not selected, the Managing Board rejected the complaints of the candidates, my clients, literally without any explanation. The complaints presented all irregularities that happened during the procedure, and they uniformly made all the decisions without any explanation, simply recounting the course of the procedure itself, which is also unclear and illegal– said Harčin Šabić.

The court is (my) only hope

The vacancy, shrouded in secrecy, resulted in permanent employment, stability, and a secure income for some. However, for others, it represents a step closer to permanent emigration from the country.

– I’m 25 years old, and this is the second time this has happened to me. I’m really trying to stay in this country. It doesn’t seem fair to me, especially since I’m the youngest participant in this current recruitment procedure. I’m taking legal action; it’s my only hope because I have nothing to lose. Situations like this are driving young people from my community and from the country – concludes Nalić.

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