COVID-19’s impact has reshaped the workplace and the workforce, and the healthcare industry is not immune. Even before the pandemic hit, healthcare leaders were issuing warnings that hospitals were on the precipice of facing staff shortages. Of course, we’ve seen healthcare professionals quit in droves during the past two years of the pandemic. Some left due to the physical and mental tolls of being on the front lines, whereas others left to take higher paying travelling healthcare positions. Many senior members of healthcare staff are also nearing retirement age. Many of them opted for early retirements, while others will only be working a short while longer. According to a survey from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the average age of a registered nurse in the United States in 2020 was 51 years old. Additionally, approximately 52 percent of active physicians are 55 years old or older. With some many professionals reaching retirement age, staffing issues are likely to worsen over the coming years.
In a 2021 study, healthcare professionals reported that 87 percent of respondents said their healthcare facility is still short-staffed and 53 percent of those surveyed did not feel optimistic about the future of healthcare. Decreased morale, increased work-related stress, and dissatisfaction about pay were all reported by the respondents. However, these sentiments are not new. Pre-COVID healthcare workers we already expressing some level of dissatisfaction with facility working conditions. This was cited as a contributing factor in seeking other employment options, such as travel nursing, which provides more flexibility and control over when and where they work.
Obviously, the added disruption from the pandemic has only made the situation more dire. The healthcare industry continues to face long-term shortages. The annual rate of turnover in emergency, ICU and nursing departments increased from 18 percent pre-pandemic to 30 percent in 2021. The need to fill nursing and other healthcare jobs is now in high demand all over the country and that demand will very likely continue to grow.
In order to meet the staffing needs of healthcare facilities, the demand for healthcare staffing and traveling nursing companies has exploded during the pandemic. The use of agency and temporary labor increased 132 percent for full time workers and 131 percent for part-time workers during the pandemic. Travel nurse rates alone jumped more than 200 percent from pre-pandemic levels. With the increased use of temporary healthcare staff, the amount of healthcare staffing agencies is increasing as well. Even existing staffing companies who had previously operated in different industries are expanding their scope and have begun recruiting healthcare professionals. Currently, hospitals are spending approximately 63 percent more for travel RNs than they did at the start of 2020.
Job growth operates in regard to supply and demand. With the increased demand for care during the pandemic in addition to the large aging population which will need care, and healthcare staff retiring, it is a perfect equation for increased availability in healthcare positions. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for healthcare positions will grow 16 percent by 2030 – that is about 2.6 million new jobs!
For many, remote work has become the new normal. While it may not be possible for some healthcare professionals to work remotely, cutting back on in person meetings for interviews and onboarding can be more attractive to applicants. For many, this time saving perk may be the thing that sets one staffing agency apart from the others. Recruiters are becoming more creative when it comes to interacting with candidates, such as utilizing social media and online community discussion groups, and attending virtual networking events.
As baby boomers age, the demand for home healthcare professionals will also grow. In the past few years, we have already seen an unexpected rise in the need for home healthcare due to the pandemic. These at home services were an important benefit for vulnerable patients who were at increased risk for medical complications due to COVID and it is likely that services such as these will continue to be necessary moving forward.
Many of the factors that lead to healthcare shortages – stress, burnout, trauma- can be combatted with a greater focus on the mental health and physical well-being of healthcare professionals. Staffing companies would do well to showcase their workplace culture and potential perks by leveraging social media and updating their websites and job postings.
2022 will continue to be a big year for travel healthcare professionals. With the anticipated job growth for healthcare staff, so many currently open positions, and hospitals utilizing travel healthcare staff at an unprecedented rate, one would think that it is simple to recruit employees. But with so many staffing organizations popping up, it really is a buyers’ market for the healthcare professional. In this market, it is best to assume that other companies are calling and making offers to your potential staff. Staffing companies need to stand out and create a great experience for their candidates. Here are 5 tips that healthcare recruiters can use to make themselves stand out:
Keeping staffing levels appropriate when compared to patient ratios is the key to employee retention. It does not take long for an overworked professional to reach the burnout stage. Once these professionals have burnt out, they will no longer be available to work safely, and their absence will affect others, creating a cycle of understaffing. By keeping staffing levels high, each professional has the ability to take time off to regroup.
In order to be successful, you and your company need to be open and flexible to the needs of healthcare professionals. By listening to their wants, and feedback, and adapting to their needs you are more likely to attract and retain talent.
Offering unique benefits can give your staffing company a competitive edge. Knowing how stressful healthcare positions are and how often professionals report feelings of stress and burnout, offering mental health and wellness benefits or trainings could be one method to attract talented professionals.
When your credentialing team is understaffed, it can lead to delays. Before healthcare professionals even have a chance to start their new position, their start dates can be pushed back. For many professionals, this may give them time to accept another offer from a different staffing company.
Developing a strong partnership with an occupational health services company can save you time and prevent untimely start date delays. A strong partner understands what staffing companies are going through and what their pain points are. NMS Health will work with you to get your employees’ and candidates’ health screenings scheduled within our vast nationwide partner network and get them in the door at their facility quickly.
NMS Health's service is designed to make the screening process simple and less time consuming for your hiring teams. Place a request in our platform, pod, track live statuses, and get results all in the same place. With a large network of clinic, lab, and pharmacy partners, we've got coverage in all 50 states!
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2022 environmental scan: AHA. American Hospital Association. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.aha.org/environmentalscan
Healthcare employers in dire need of an expanded workforce. New Jersey Hospital Association. (2022, February). Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.njha.com/media/682471/workforce-shortage-bulletin-feb-2022-final.pdf
Nursing shortage factsheet. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/Factsheets/Nursing-Shortage-Factsheet.pdf
One-year in: What's next for America's Healthcare Workers. Vivian Community Hub. (2022, April 19). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.vivian.com/community/industry-trends/one-year-in-whats-next-for-americas-healthcare-workers/
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, April 18). Healthcare occupations: Occupational outlook handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm#:~:text=Employment%20in%20healthcare%20occupations%20is,of%20the%20other%20occupational%20groups.