How the Healthcare industry is recovering and where it’s still hurting
It would be an understatement to say that the last three years have been a rollercoaster for pretty much everyone. Restaurants closed down, parents suddenly became home teachers, and practically every healthcare worker in the world was instantly approved for quadruple overtime- without asking for it.
And those healthcare workers who weren’t drafted in the great fight against Covid were left jobless as non-emergency offices closed and hospitals postponed non-emergency care to free up resources.
It seems, however, that the industry is beginning to bounce back. As of February 2022, 64,000 jobs were added to the healthcare sector.
While the data shows an increase in job placements for home health service hires as well as physician and other healthcare practitioners’ offices there is still a large void that desperately needs to be filled.
The nursing shortage crisis
Since the onset of the pandemic, and honestly the beginning of all healthcare, nurses have played an integral role in how we provide medical care, but these roles haven’t recovered as well.
A large reason for this is that more than 85% of the healthcare workforce consists of women who experienced the largest share of the Covid-19-related job losses especially those with children 5 years of age or younger.
Not only are registered nurses in high demand – nursing aids, long-term caregivers, and medical assistants – fields also predominantly composed of women, are also finding it difficult not only to fill roles but keep people in them.
The nursing labor market remains significantly unsettled post-pandemic with hospitals and nursing homes experiencing huge losses in staff. With the advertised pay rate of travel nurses surging more than 67% in the last two years combined with the ongoing strain of nurses in traditional roles, it’s no wonder many are choosing to transition to traveling nurse agencies that offer competitive pay and sign-on bonuses.
A letter from the American Hospital Association to White House officials state shows just how desperate the situation is. AHA along with the nursing home lobby are having to pay these increased rates in order to fill their vacant staff roles with contract nurses which they believe is exacerbating the nursing shortage.
However, many nurses have spoken out saying that if hospitals and nursing homes invested more in their staff nurses, they would be more likely to stay.
Frenemies of the state [A state of agitation]
Cost-cutting in hospitals long pre-dates the pandemic and isn’t the only thing threatening nurses’ take-home pay. Many nurses grow concerned that heightened scrutiny from the government will result in lower wages as some states have already begun to cap nurse pay in certain circumstances, or are considering legislative action to do so.
Massachusetts, for example, caps pay for registered nurses at hospitals at around $120 an hour while at nursing home facilities, the state caps RNs’ wages at approximately $80 per hour according to the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
But is this the solution to how we maintain our front line of healthcare defense? Especially in the wake of The Great Resignation?
What are nurses saying?
Many nurses say pay caps are not just unfair but unethical. The problem isn’t high pay; rather that there aren’t enough nurses willing to do an increasingly challenging job for low wages.
This sentiment which is shared by many of those leaving their jobs and finding they can negotiate for higher pay, more consistent hours, or better accommodations through agencies.
Another contributing factor according to a recent survey from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is demographics. The average age of registered nurses in 2022 is 52 and with many of this generation retiring, more nurses will need to be trained to replace them. Though there is no lack of interest with the number of nursing graduates swelling in recent years, experts say nursing schools could produce significantly more graduates were it not for the cost of nursing schools and a shortage of nursing instructors
But the largest factor, by far, is how low the pay is compared to how difficult the work environment is.
Michelle Mahon, assistant director of nursing practice at National Nurses United says “There is no nursing shortage in the United States. There is a shortage of nurses who are willing to work in these conditions. This is something that’s been created by health care employers over a very long period of time.”
As with all issues, there isn’t going to be one simple solution but as you listen to those front-line workers it seems the first step is a paradigm shift in what we consider the bottom-line in healthcare.
While financial stability is important to every business if healthcare employers focus on providing reasonable accommodations, desirable schedules, and comparable wages to their front-line healthcare staff they will undoubtedly see an increase in employee retention.
That will of course result in:
- Less time and fewer resources devoted to training new staff every few weeks
- More staff on-hand to avoid employee burn-out
- An improvement in overall patient care (which is the whole point of healthcare after all, right?)
Healthcare organizations need to understand that there is a business impact from both the status quo – constant turnover and employee dissatisfaction – and paying more for talent that can be retained. Weigh those factors in a way that optimizes your business and patient-care objectives.
Headline: The hidden healthcare workers
While you look to fill these competitive positions it’s important not to miss out on those hidden workers within the healthcare industry.
As we’ve seen, women make up more than 85% of this workforce, many of whom are historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups. That alone makes them prone to AI recruiting bias and being eliminated from your pipeline for reasons such as gaps in their work history due to childcare responsibilities.
At Leoforce we understand the importance of reducing these biases and promoting protected classes in order to uncover hidden talent and promote a more productive and diverse workforce.
Our AI recruiting platform, Arya Quantum, combines data-driven hiring solutions and Artificial Intuition to reveal a world of healthcare talent previously undiscovered.
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