Healthcare Workforce Challenges


More than two years into a pandemic, healthcare continues to face workforce challenges. High burnout and turnover have contributed to a continued shortage, and healthcare is working to find solutions.

While healthcare employment topped 16 million at the end of 2021, the industry as a whole is still not back to pre-pandemic levels. Recent data published by the American Hospital Association estimates that 200,000 registered nurses will be needed each year to make up for the current shortage, as well as approximately 124,000 physicians over the next 10 years. When broken down by sector, ambulatory care has recovered and exceeded pre-pandemic employment levels. Hospitals and nursing/residential care facilities, however, are still operating on a deficit of employees.

Nursing and physician shortages have been recorded for decades, but the shortage is exacerbated as demand continues to grow. Since a decade ago, job openings in the healthcare industry have doubled, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other factors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the problem. Burnout in the healthcare industry is at an all-time high, with a study by reporting 87% of nurses feel burned out, and 83% feel their mental health has suffered. This burnout has resulted in a wave of early retirement across the industry, with retirement among the top reasons for RNs resigning for the first time. These burnout numbers are contributing to a high rate of turnover at almost 40%, higher than the national average rate of turnover for all jobs, according to Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker.

“Gig Economy” Comes to Healthcare

The industry has had to get creative with solutions to address nursing shortages, utilizing surpluses in some states to travel to states with larger deficits. The U.S. is attempting to attract nurses from other countries as well. Called travel nursing, this practice grew 35% during the pandemic and is expected to continue to grow. Health systems are also using apps to attract temp workers.

The use of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is available in 33 participating states. The NLC allows nurses to hold a multistate license, so they can travel to practice in-person or via telehealth in any of the partner states.

Where do we go from here?

Byron Jobe, Vizient President and CEO, for Becker’s Hospital Review, recommends three areas of focus to combat the healthcare shortage:

  • Recruit. Review current job postings to concentrate on the highest-priority available positions. Work with a background screener specializing in the healthcare industry, like PreCheck, to optimize your onboarding process.
  • Retain. Ensure your organization is meeting or exceeding market pay and benefits. A seamless onboarding experience can have a big impact on a positive initial experience for your candidates. Provide continued training and educational opportunities for your workforce.
  • Reimagine. COVID-19 proved how adaptable the healthcare industry can be. The goal is not to get back to a pre-pandemic normal, but to evolve in our new normal.

How can PreCheck Help?

Contact us to help your organization review your onboarding program to increase efficiency and reduce hurdles for your applicants.