The Time is Now to Work in Health Care

Do you want to be a hero? Who doesn’t? The last couple of years has driven the point home to all of us that healthcare professionals are bonafide heroes. The ability to take care of sick people daily, to be empathetic and compassionate to every single patient, and to heal often complicated health conditions is truly a strength that not everyone is blessed with.

The healthcare sector needs more heroes, in a very bad way. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the overall healthcare workforce has decreased 2.7% from February 2020. That number was mostly in nursing homes. When looking at just hospitals, the workforce is down 1.8% from February 2020. 

Healthcare workers are leaving their jobs at higher rates than before the pandemic started. By October 2021, workers leaving health care and social assistance jobs had increased 35% than before the pandemic. The combined number of health and social assistance job openings has been increasing since April 2020 and is now 51.9% higher than before the pandemic. In other words, there is a ton of opportunity to be a hero.

Healthcare working giving injection to a young child.
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Nurses Are Scarce

Registered nurses are the most in-demand right now. According to a survey of 226 hospitals from 37 states, the turnover rate for hospital staff nurses in 2020 was 18.7%, a 2.8 % increase over 2019. In 2021, 62% of U.S. hospitals reported a vacancy rate for RNs at more than 7%. Some hospitals are experiencing a nurse vacancy rate of more than 25%.

This is concerning because the aging U.S. population has sharply increased the demand for nursing care. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030, 82 million U.S. residents will be age 65 or older, of which 80% have at least one chronic medical condition. At the same time, many baby boomer nurses are reaching retirement age and leaving the profession. Nursing schools have also experienced a faculty shortage and have been unable to keep up with the demand for nurses. Lastly, many nurses are leaving hospitals for less stressful jobs at private medical practices, outpatient clinics, and insurance companies.

The combination of high demand, declining numbers of nurses, and the stress of the pandemic have caused HR departments in hospitals to adopt creative hiring strategies. Such measures have included:

  • Increasing salaries and premium pay
  • Adding signing bonuses
  • Liberalizing paid leave policies
  • Expanding and enhancing benefits
  • Enhancing the work environment to include self-care options
  • Adding incentive programs and recognition awards
  • Creating referral bonuses to encourage staff to help recruit new nurses

Here are some specific examples from around the country. Monument Health in South Dakota offered signing bonuses up to $40,000 for nurses who make a two-year commitment. Job listings for nurses in Maine and Virginia include $20,000 signing bonuses. Montana is offering healthcare workers (not just nurses) up to $12,500 in moving expenses to relocate to the state.

These efforts will continue and expand in 2022 and beyond. The American Nurses Association called for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to declare a national nurse staffing crisis. By becoming a nurse, you will not only be a hero to your patients, but you will also be a huge part of solving a national crisis.

What About Other Healthcare Jobs?

Support positions in health care are projected to experience a steep growth in employment. Personal care and service occupations are also expected to see rapid employment growth. Several of the fastest growing healthcare occupations–including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical therapist assistants –are expected to be in great demand.

The average wages for healthcare workers rose 5% from 2019 to 2020, while all industries’ average wages rose 6.7% during the same time, according to JAMA Health Forum. During the first six months of 2021, the healthcare average wage increased by another 1.5%.  These wages increased because of the declining employment rate in the healthcare sector. Overall, healthcare employment dipped from 22.2 million in 2019 to 21.1 million in early 2020, a 5.2% decline, but then “considerably rebounded” to 21.8 million by the middle of 2021.

Still, most of the healthcare sector is affected by the labor crisis. The crisis has driven some facilities to limit admissions or services due to the short supply of workers. Nursing homes and home health care services have been particularly hurt. A recent poll of more than 14,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities revealed 58%  have limited new admissions due to a lack of employees. From 2019 to 2021, home health referral acceptance rates fell 15%, while nursing homes declined referrals 10% more often in 2021 compared to 2019.

Many healthcare organizations are offering new bonuses or benefits, hoping to increase retention or attract new employees. Providence Health System in Washington recently announced it would funnel more than $220 million into new bonus plans and wage adjustments to retain the more than 120,000 employees who work for Providence and fill their 17,000 job openings.

To sweeten the hiring deal, a recent survey found that more healthcare systems are offering a broader portfolio of benefits designed to attract and retain workers. These benefits include tuition reimbursement and better healthcare coverage.

In addition, the federal government is investing $1.5 billion in grants to increase and diversify the healthcare workforce and improve clinical care in underserved communities. The funds will go to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), the Nurse Corps, and a new program, the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program. The funding will include a 27% increase in loan repayment awards and scholarships and support more than 22,000 primary care clinicians, including dentists, nurses, physicians, and behavioral health professionals.

How Much Does a Healthcare Worker Make in Arizona? 

The average Healthcare Worker‘s salary in Arizona is $56,182. The range is between $41,500 and $62,342. Salary ranges vary depending on the city, state, certifications, education, additional skills, and experience.

Here are examples of median salaries for certain health care jobs in Arizona:

  • Physician Assistant – $ $113,850
  • LPN –  $55,820
  • Medical Transcriptionist – $33,860
  • Health Information Technologist – $59,920
  • Nurse Midwife — $121,530
  • Radiologic Technician – $63,780
  • Medical Records Specialist — $46,390

All of this to say, the healthcare sector needs you, and there are plenty of jobs to choose from.  Are you ready to answer the call? Contact us and we’ll help you get started.

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.

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