Finding talented healthcare workers has never been easy, but recent years have stretched managers to their limits in the search for qualified staff. In fact, experts estimate that 2.3 million new healthcare professionals will be needed to cover the next decade’s needs. What’s behind this dangerous shortage of healthcare workers?
Factors influencing the healthcare job market
While health care is a broad industry with many diverse fields, the shortage of qualified hires is being felt in almost every specialty. Home health aides and physical therapists have extremely different training, duties, and salary, yet they are currently the most in-demand professions in the country, with rapid growth in all other healthcare professions.
Despite the diversity of the industry, there appear to be several shared factors that the fueling the shortage of healthcare workers.
A generation of nurses is retiring
It’s estimated that nearly a million nurses will retire over the next decade, and related fields are suffering the same trend. Retirees have a larger impact on the healthcare shortage because they leave more than an empty position – they take their experience with them, as well. With a lower percentage of long-term professionals to mentor the next generation, the shortage is felt more acutely.
An aging population
Though medical services are needed by all age groups, the vast majority of healthcare resources are investing caring for the elderly population. Exponential growth in the population has led to a critical mass of aging and ill patients, and the industry is struggling to meet their needs.
Since only a handful of entry-level jobs don’t require specific schooling, the vast majority of medical workers must be trained and licensed before they can practice. Meanwhile, allied health programs are unable to educate and graduate students fast enough to meet the demand. Until such programs are able to expand, the shortage is likely to continue.
Since modern health care is shaped by complex factors – including industry advancements and external influences, such as legislation – the state of the field is beyond the control even of industry insiders. As such, many professionals have seen the nature of their work change dramatically, becoming increasingly complex. Due to this rapid change, many long-term healthcare workers have chosen to branch out into other fields.
In what has turned into a vicious cycle, the shortage of qualified healthcare workers is weighing down those who have, until now, remained in their field. As understaffing becomes more prevalent, stress and burnout are causing many to leave the profession faster than they can be replaced.
How to face the shortage of healthcare workers
Fortunately, the right strategy can still guarantee that you’ll find qualified hires for your facility. Since healthcare is a collaborative industry, your best bet is to partner with a staffing agency that specializes in your field. At HireCare, we have nearly two decades of experience matching diverse facilities with talented allied health professionals that meet their needs. To learn more about our comprehensive staffing services, contact us today.