The Talent Shortage in Healthcare

Before the pandemic, the healthcare field was booming.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[1], there were already 18.9 million people employed in the healthcare field, which is almost four million more than in 2005.  As we emerge from the pandemic, there is even more need for qualified health care professionals. The healthcare[2] and social assistance sectors are projected to add the most jobs of all industry sectors, about 3.3 million jobs by 2030. Within healthcare, employment in the individual and family services positions should increase the fastest, by 3.3 percent annually.  Health care support positions will be a large part of the growth.

Factors expected to contribute to the increase of available jobs include rising demand for the care of an aging population, longer life expectancies, and continued growth in the number of patients with chronic conditions. And the pandemic has caused some professionals to burn out and leave the field altogether.

According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll[3],  3 in 10 health care workers have thought about leaving the medical field. More than 50% are burned out. About 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has caused mental health issues. Even worse,  thousands[4] of health care workers have died.  Labor shortages are adding to hospitals’ already precarious financial situations[5] by putting pressure [6] on their recruitment and retention strategies which increase wages. For example, hospitals and health systems are paying $24 billion more per year for qualified medical clinicians than they did before the pandemic, according to a recent Premier report.[7]

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

What Can Medical Hiring Professionals Do?

Now that we’ve laid out the problem, let’s talk about how to create solutions to overcome the talent shortage. How can HR be creative in attracting and hiring staff?  Sure, good pay and comprehensive benefits will help. But how can you find the best candidates when every other health care organization is looking for them too?  Some experts think this may be a tipping point for the sector because how the industry responds will help shape healthcare services for years to come.

The Duquesne University[8] School of Nursing recommends these strategies.

  • Promote Public Health and Preventative Measures. When people have the resources and knowledge to stay healthy, their need for medical treatment decreases.
  • Hire More Nurses for Primary Care Roles. Employing primary care nurses can reduce the need for doctors by offering basic care to patients who do not need a physician’s care. Nurses can treat chronic conditions and offer self-care advice to help patients manage their conditions.
  • Support Human Resource Professional Development. With better equipped and trained hiring professionals in a healthcare operation, it can be easier to find qualified employees, offer on-the-job training, and make it easier to train people who want to enter the healthcare field. If your HR department needs help, there are agencies like Desert Medical Careers can help. 
  • Collecting Reliable Data for Health Databases. When there is more relevant patient data available, most healthcare operations can offer streamlined health care services from a smaller number of employees.
  • Giving Healthcare Workers a Voice in Shaping Legislation and Policies. Healthcare workers are the most qualified to make recommendations about how to change the industry for the better. Encourage your staff to interact with lawmakers and industry leaders to help improve the way the industry is regulated.

It’s important to know that certain trends in the healthcare industry will affect the current job shortage. First and foremost, the pandemic has put public health in the limelight. Health care is not only available in hospitals and doctors’ offices any longer. It can be accessed in community health centers, urgent care operations, and through home health. This expansion of nontraditional health care will necessitate a different kind of caregiver. These include public healthcare workers, case managers, and patient advocates. In future years, more of these nontraditional healthcare workers will need to be hired and trained. These workers can help bridge the job shortage gap.

As technology continues to upend most industries, including the health care field, human resources professionals will need to train up existing employees to use relevant technologies and offer training opportunities for potential employees. A recent SHRM survey[9] showed that these strategies are the most effective in bridging that gap.

  • Providing onsite training to employees in the form of seminars and training programs
  • Starting or expanding training programs to help improve the skills of new hires
  • Providing offsite training to employees such as workshops and development programs
  •  Increasing compensation

Here are other ways HR professionals can be creative.

  • Provide debt relief. School loans are crippling young professionals in America. Offering student loan repayment plans, signing bonuses, and stipends can attract a new set of candidates to your organization.
  •  Be flexible in scheduling. Burnout and fatigue are real problems in many clinical settings. Try to avoid that burden and attract new employees by letting employees set their shifts and hours.
  • Create training partnerships. As mentioned above, offering training to potential employees is a creative way to attract help. Work with local colleges, governments, and business groups to educate students and staff in new technology, medical treatments, or business processes.
  • Sponsor apprenticeships. Partner with the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship to help close the staffing gap for medical positions that typically require an associate degree.
  • Redefine job responsibilities. Cross-train any clerical or administrative employees so they can cover staffing gaps within your organization. Deploy nurse practitioners and physician assistants to stand in for doctors when applicable.

As the industry continues to evolve and the demand for health care services increases, the shortage of medical professionals is a growing threat.  Don’t let the current labor shortage minimize your business. If you are flexible, motivated, and creative, you can find ways to attract and hire new talent and ensure that your community continues to receive quality care.  If you need help, Desert Medical Careers can help. Call (602) 468-6300 to get started.

What can Medical Job Seekers do?

If you have ever thought about changing careers or pivoting into another aspect of health care, now is the time to do it. Because of the current job shortage, you essentially have the power to write your own future story.  

The healthcare industry has a wide variety of opportunities for you to consider. The pandemic has opened up even more in the field of telehealth, infection control, and respiratory therapy.  The fastest-growing healthcare positions [10]are nurse practitioners, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants, home health aides, and personal care aides. Some of these positions do not require a bachelor’s degree, but they may require a license or certificate in a certain type of medicine or technology.  Find an employer who will help you obtain the license or reimburse you for schooling.

There are also other types of healthcare employers to consider, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities, public health departments, schools, prisons, and shelters. Healthcare professionals are needed to keep infection under control, address mental health issues, and generally take care of their vulnerable populations.

Many healthcare professionals are staying in the industry but pivoting to other types of jobs.  The need for data and the introduction of new technology will create new administrative and IT positions in healthcare organizations.  Medical coding[11] is an example of a new need in many organizations. Medical coders review patient documentation before an insurance claim is processed.  This position ensures insurance claims are coded properly so that the maximum reimbursement is issued.  

As the baby boomers and Generation X age, more health care will be needed to keep them well. Healthcare workers are essential today and they will be even more essential in the future. Both large and small health care operations will need to staff up to meet the demand.  

If you’d like to be placed in a healthcare position that’s the best fit for you, contact Desert Medical Careers at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below to get contacted by a DMC expert.

[wufoo username=”desmedcar” formhash=”z1eq93o70h1yz3r” autoresize=”true” height=”547″ header=”show” ssl=”true”]