The Healthcare Workforce Shortage Persists. Experts Say the True Solution is Improved, Well-Funded Schooling

Thanks to pandemic-induced burnout, an aging population placing more demand on the nation’s healthcare system, and a gap between billions in federal funding and improvements to the healthcare labor supply, the United States is witnessing a persisting healthcare workforce shortage.

The shortage of physicians is expected to reach alarming levels by 2034 (perhaps as high as 124,000, according to one study). And a growing shortage of nurses will make this problem worse; according to estimates, we can only address this shortage by adding 1.2 million registered nurses to the workforce by 2030.

What’s both encouraging and disappointing is that the lack of trained, healthcare personnel isn’t due to a lack of interest; the healthcare training ecosystem can create some self-inflicted wounds. It’s not news that there are only a limited number of slots at nursing schools, but in 2021, as many as 92,000 qualified students were rejected from nursing schools due to a shortage of faculty and training sites.

While hospital systems are trying a variety of strategies to counteract the healthcare workforce shortage, short-term solutions that are community-specific can clearly only go so far, considering the shortage has persisted as long as it has. Roy Bejarano, CEO of Scale Healthcare, which partners with management teams across the country to improve management performance in the healthcare industry, highlights the importance of examining — and improving — the medical and nursing school system in order to deal with this persisting shortage of healthcare workers.


Roy’s Thoughts:

“Unfortunately, emergency short-term staffing solutions are often unsustainable, highly expensive transitory relationships. Hospitals would prefer stable workforces that buy into culture and quality, dependable staff that go above and beyond because they’re emotionally invested in the institution. We run the risk of too much volatility affecting care and patient outcomes. Shortages in any area, either administrative or clinical, create pressure on those that remain, those staff members that remain, and it can become a vicious cycle all the way down, as retention becomes more difficult and as turnover increases. The good news: the problems listed in the question don’t all actually historically lead to staff shortages. Some actually are associated with increased supply of staff. A recession, per se, should create more labor supply and lower the costs of labor, as existing workers unfortunately lose their positions and look for new employment. Healthcare is, historically, a defensive industry and it typically offers employment where other industries slow down.

A good comparison would be the tech space, venture capital, which right now, is looking at the depression. A shrinking workforce is therefore transitory. Workforces, and workforce participation goes up. 64-65% of the populace goes down 62-61%. It’s not permanent — at least historically it hasn’t been. Change and stress forces hospitals to reexamine everything that they do to find better solutions. A plan B, contingency plans for hiring, invest more in what they have, their loyal staff, their retention. It’s not there for all bad news. There are silver linings to every crisis, and these health systems will come back. Those that survive [will] come back stronger for it. A more important question that we should ask ourselves, is what can we do that is structurally different to get a different labor shortage outcome in healthcare the next time around? What’s going on with this recurring theme of insufficient supply in healthcare? And I think for that, we all need to take a closer look at our schooling system. How many schools do we have? How well funded are they? What’s their commitment to producing higher quantities of qualified clinicians? Why is the industry seemingly so excited to restrict supply?

A cynic might point to higher compensation levels for those that are there today. But what benefits one might not benefit all. Shorter training periods, other ways of allocating clinical tasks more efficiently, introducing mid-levels allowing for nurse practitioners to be more available to do more tasks versus less, less reliance on this small pocket of super well-trained, very short supply clinicians, would be probably a step in the right direction, but all of these changes take time and require a lot of analysis and collaboration.”

Article written by Aarushi Maheshwari.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!



innovations in healthcare
Innovations in Healthcare: A Discussion with Dr. Craig Joseph at HIMSS 2024
May 24, 2024

Innovations in healthcare were easy to spot at the recent HIMSS 2024 conference. Healthcare Rethink’s Brian Urban caught up with one of those innovators for a live discussion at HIMSS 2024. podcast, Their conversation opens a window and dialogue into the cutting-edge trends reshaping healthcare technology today. This episode features Dr. Craig Joseph, the…

Read More
Preventing burnout
Achieving Professional Growth and Preventing Burnout: The Importance of Time Management and Support Networks in a Fast-Paced World
May 23, 2024

In today’s fast-paced world, balancing professional growth with personal well-being is more crucial than ever. With the rise of remote work, digital transformation, and the constant hustle culture, finding this balance has become a significant challenge for many. A survey conducted by Deloitte suggests that a whopping 77% of professionals experience burnout at work….

Read More
Fan-Centric Business Transformation
Prop Room
May 23, 2024

In this episode of the Fans First series, Jesse Cole, the mastermind behind the Savannah Bananas, shares with us that in the vibrant world of marketing, creativity knows no bounds—a philosophy embodied by a prop room and studio teeming with eclectic costumes and outlandish ideas. This creative hub, seemingly disconnected from conventional themes like bananas,…

Read More
Ace Gardner and Jacob Lewis discuss NIL Deals and Transfer Portals
NIL Deals and Transfer Portals are Also Impacting College Staff and Their Roles
May 23, 2024

College sports is undergoing a significant transformation with the advent of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights and the increasing prevalence of transfer portals. These changes are reshaping how college staff operate, presenting both opportunities and challenges. With the rise of NIL deals and transfer portals, understanding the behind-the-scenes impact on college coaching staff…

Read More