How to Overcome Staffing Shortages in the Healthcare Industry

How to Overcome Staffing Shortages in the Healthcare Industry 

The healthcare staffing shortage is a pressing issue nowadays, causing challenges for many healthcare organizations in recruiting and keeping skilled staff. Healthcare staffing shortage has a notable impact on patient care, employee satisfaction, and how efficiently organizations operate. However, there are effective strategies that healthcare organizations can adopt to address this staffing shortfall and establish a strong, reliable workforce. In this article, we will delve into some of these strategies. 

A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a potential shortage of up to 9.9 million physicians, nurses, and midwives worldwide by 2030. So, this looming crisis places a heavy burden on current healthcare workers, who must swiftly learn, collaborate, and communicate effectively, even in highly stressful situations. Hence, to combat burnout and address this healthcare staffing shortage challenge, innovative training and recruitment methods emerge as a promising solution. In this article, we will delve into the issue of the global healthcare staff shortage. Explore how hospitals are adapting to this predicament. Plus examine the training and recruitment approaches that can bolster the present and future of healthcare. 

How to Reduce Staffing Shortage?  

Stressing the shortfalls that exist right now and drawing the link between understaffed teams and patient safety. Plus, the healthcare staffing shortage was deemed "a national emergency" by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. By the end of 2022, the healthcare staffing shortage is predicted to reach 1.1 million for nurses alone. Furthermore, if current trends continue, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the market may lack up to 124,000 physicians by 2034.  

Not only are nurses and physicians leaving in large numbers. There's also a high demand for various healthcare roles, including service workers, lab technicians, and paramedics. This is causing existing healthcare teams to experience constant stress, overwork, and burnout. 

Reasons for Healthcare Staffing Shortage?  

There is a shortage of healthcare workers of all stripes, including physicians, nurses, technicians, and assistants. Therefore, the healthcare staffing shortage is caused by a number of issues. These are a few of the principal causes:  

  • Aging Population 

The percentage of people over 65 (now 16% of the population) will rise to 21% this year as the baby boomer generation ages. Moreover, the elderly population will need greater medical attention. 

This indicates a rise in the need for support and healthcare personnel. Changes in demographics, particularly in areas such as primary care and nursing, have complicated health care shortages. We are all witnessing the effects of the healthcare shortage and things can be stressful.  

  • Burnout and High Turnover 

Healthcare professionals, especially nurses and doctors, face a significant risk of burnout because they work long hours in stressful environments and deal with a large number of patients. Therefore, this growing demand for healthcare workers is also impacting healthcare administration. Across the industry, staff members are being tasked with additional responsibilities. As their workloads increase, it becomes challenging for organizations to retain enough staff, resulting in higher turnover rates. This, in turn, makes it difficult for these organizations to maintain the necessary staffing levels. 

  • Difficulty Training and Onboarding New Staff 

Some people may decide against pursuing a profession in healthcare. Due to the extensive and costly training needed to become healthcare workers. Additionally, it takes time for healthcare practices to onboard new staff.  

High turnover in medical practices often leads to a constant need to bring in new employees. This takes valuable time away from their primary duties. In the healthcare field, opportunities for on-the-job training and career growth are limited, especially in nursing and medical administrative roles. 

  • Uneven Distribution of Healthcare Professionals 

Because of a lack of resources, few career prospects, and lower incomes than in metropolitan regions, healthcare personnel sometimes find it difficult to find and stay in rural and underserved communities. Top talent is more difficult to hire and keep as a result. 

Staff Shortages in Healthcare Sector 

High turnover in medical practices often leads to a constant need to bring in new employees. This takes valuable time away from their primary duties. In the healthcare field, opportunities for on-the-job training and career growth are limited, especially in nursing and medical administrative roles. 

The healthcare sector is facing a significant healthcare staffing shortage, and this issue can be attributed to various factors. Firstly, the retirement of a substantial number of baby boomers has created a demographic imbalance, reducing the available workforce. Secondly, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and the pandemic have increased the demand for healthcare services. Unfortunately, the supply of healthcare professionals has not kept pace with this rising demand. Additionally, younger professionals are leaving the healthcare field due to experiencing burnout and job dissatisfaction. This collective set of circumstances has created a situation where there is simply not enough supply to meet the growing need for care. 

Healthcare staffing shortage has a big impact on everyone in the healthcare system, including patients. When there aren't enough workers to handle essential tasks, the healthcare professionals who remain end up with heavier workloads. They often find themselves doing tasks they weren't originally trained for or don't really want to do. 

In the United States, doctors, for instance, spend about one-sixth of their time on administrative work. This situation leads to more burnout and less job satisfaction among healthcare workers. Unfortunately, this results in more staff members quitting, creating a never-ending cycle of staff shortages. 

How Does Staff Shortage Affect Patients?  

Healthcare staffing shortage staff creates a financial burden for healthcare systems. When there are too few healthcare workers, systems must invest more to attract and keep talented professionals. However, if there aren't sufficient personnel with the necessary skills and expertise to do the job, even having ample financial resources cannot resolve the problem. 

The long-term viability and productivity of our healthcare systems to provide better patient care will be in jeopardy. Plus, if the staff shortage problem is not resolved. Additionally, this is not a simple problem to solve, and creative thinking will be necessary to fill the gap left by the lack of employees.

Investing In the Current Healthcare Workforce 

During the initial two months of the pandemic outbreak, approximately 1.5 million healthcare workers left their positions. Although some of them have since come back, the healthcare industry still hasn't fully recovered to its pre-pandemic staffing levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there's a shortage of 176,000 workers, which represents a 1.1% decline compared to February 2020. 

  1. Investing In employee retention: AdventHealth, a healthcare system based in Florida, has wholeheartedly embraced a key strategy to reduce employee turnover. They have prioritized investing over $440 million in extra compensation for their healthcare workers. This substantial commitment is aimed at retaining and motivating their current workforce.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  2. Intermountain Healthcare: For instance, has teamed up with an educational platform called inStride. Through this partnership, they aim to provide caregivers and their families with improved training services and workflow tools. Plus, this goes to show that investments can go beyond just boosting salaries. Moreover, medical staff productivity might be hindered by administrative, planning, and budgetary responsibilities that can be addressed with the aid of training techniques.                                                                                                                                                          
  3. Focusing on Education: To tackle the issue of future staffing shortages, Prisma Health, based in South Carolina, has taken a proactive approach. They have joined forces with local universities to speed up training programs, provide easier access to education, and offer financial assistance to aspiring medical students. This approach directly tackles the staffing shortage problem at its source and has the potential to encourage more young individuals to consider a career in healthcare.                                                                                                                                          
  4. Recruiting Internationally: As our world becomes more interconnected, it's only logical for healthcare institutions to adopt an international recruitment approach. Since the 1980s, Henry Ford Health in Michigan has actively partnered with healthcare professionals in Canada and the Philippines. Moreover, these partnerships have not only fostered international relationships but have also established enduring pipelines for recruitment. 

Digital Health: A Solution to Alleviate Staff Shortages 

Healthcare leaders should explore how digital health solutions can aid in retaining and supporting staff. While enhancing the efficiency of workflows, thereby reducing the burden of administrative and low-value tasks on healthcare professionals across the care continuum. This rising challenge of finding the right staff can be addressed through the implementation of digital health solutions. This has demonstrated their ability to streamline operations and improve the overall functioning of healthcare organizations. 

At the point of care, digital solutions facilitate the effective management of personnel, equipment, and data. 

Nurses and care coordinators are in short supply in the medical field. Yet, they are stuck doing manual tasks when digital tools can help. When it comes to providing healthcare, there are three main challenges: 

  1. The healthcare staff needs to handle data from various places inside and outside the hospital and make sure it gets safely and securely stored in a patient's electronic medical record.
  2. They have to deal with the machines used in hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms for diagnoses and monitoring.
  3. The healthcare staff must make sure that the people doing these tests on patients are properly trained and kept up to date. 

Impacts of Healthcare Staffing Shortages 

When there are not enough employees to do important work on time, it takes longer, and the quality suffers. This is a big concern for safety in healthcare. In healthcare, bad quality work can harm patients. Many studies prove that having too few staff can lead to bad quality and harm to patients. 

Lack of adequate staff: Healthcare organizations are dealing with not having enough staff, which makes their workers feel very busy. Hospitals are also busier because patients got sicker during the pandemic from delayed care. But, even though it's tough, they still need to meet safety goals and make sure patients are safe, no matter the staffing issues. 

Problems while recruiting and retaining staff: Many hospitals and clinics are finding it hard to find and keep good healthcare workers, especially nurses, therapists, and family doctors. Because of this, there are more empty job positions and people have to wait longer to see a doctor. 

Increased workload for existing staff: Due to personnel shortages, healthcare workers who stay in their positions may face increasing workloads and burnout. This may result in worse care quality and work satisfaction as well as increased turnover rates. 

Financial challenges of medical offices: Medical offices may face financial difficulties as a result of the personnel crisis, especially smaller practices that do not have the capacity to compensate staff members competitively or provide perks to keep them on board. 

Quality of care concerns: The standard of patient treatment may suffer as a result of the shortage of healthcare professionals. Lower patient satisfaction and worse health outcomes, for instance, can be caused by things like longer appointment wait times, hurried appointments, or insufficient follow-up care. 

Nurses sometimes don't get to do all the care they should, like giving medicines on time. Research shows that having enough nurses around helps reduce this problem. In units with lots of nurses, there are fewer cases of missed care, and the nurses are less likely to forget things like turning patients, taking care of their mouths, giving baths, checking patients, helping them with the bathroom, feeding them, and getting meals ready. This was found in a study called the Internal Nursing Review.   

Changing Culture of Healthcare Institutions  

The pandemic made remote, and hybrid work really popular, and hospitals are using this to deal with not having enough staff. It's a good thing because it makes healthcare workers happier and lets people from all over the country work in hospitals. Right now, Ascension, a big healthcare system, has 40,000 healthcare workers working from home, and they want to keep doing this. 

Using virtual communication can help keep healthcare staff and administrators connected and avoid misunderstandings about schedules, staff availability, and job tasks. By investing in virtual information systems, we can make it easier for healthcare workers to find medications, locate equipment, and reduce the need for repetitive paperwork. To help them deal with burnout, we can consider new and creative training and hiring approaches.  

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