2024 Healthcare Workforce Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

As we look ahead, it’s important to see where we’ve been, what trends will continue, and what we can expect in healthcare staffing throughout 2024. The current workforce includes a potential for overworked clinicians, burnout, and reduced patient care—unless hospital leaders strategically implement solutions to combat this.

There are five trends that health systems must invest time into after the unprecedented workforce challenges of the last three years. These trends directly impact the quality of patient care, organizational resilience, and the overall effectiveness of healthcare systems and hospitals. They allow health systems to proactively develop strategies to remain financially stable without compromising clinician care or patient outcomes.

Workforce Stabilization

Workforce stabilization remains a top priority for facilities. Strategic health systems must develop initiatives to maintain a consistent, reliable, well-balanced healthcare workforce. This includes partnering with a true workforce solutions partner who will examine your hospital’s specific needs and challenges.

Achieving workforce stabilization requires getting to the root of staff turnover and addressing the reality of clinician burnout. This enables healthcare leaders to create supportive work environments, improve job satisfaction, retain their current skilled professionals, and recruit quality candidates who are a solid cultural fit.

Staffing Shortages

Staffing shortages are expected to continue to be a challenge looking forward. This is due to insufficient academic pipelines for nurses and clinicians, burnout and job dissatisfaction among nurses at the bedside, and clinicians reprioritizing their needs post-pandemic.

Combating these critical staffing challenges requires being strategic. Some hospitals are beginning to address burnout by shifting their overtime protocols so that nurses are not working beyond their physical and mental means—though more effective solutions are still needed.

This will include building a talent pipeline—partnering with high schools and higher education facilities to develop a nursing program from which clinicians can enter the hospital workforce and utilizing travelers, per diem nurses, international staff, and local contracts.

Another method of mitigating staffing shortages is implementing virtual nursing—with nurses being utilized virtually to monitor vitals and patient charting, nurses at the bedside can focus more on the physical care of their patients without the added administrative burden.

Mental Health and Wellness

According to the American Nurses Foundation’s fourth annual survey of nurse wellness from November 2023, 56% of nurses reported experiencing burnout. Over 7,400 nurses were surveyed regarding mental health and wellness factors related to their roles. These results show us that mental health and wellness are still critically important to consider as we look toward the new year.

This can be addressed by implementing Code Lavender, a rapid response protocol designed to address the emotional and psychological well-being of healthcare staff during acute stress or prolonged emotional distress. Code Lavender provides immediate support and resources to mitigate burnout and enhance the quality of life for nurses and other clinicians so that they can care for both themselves and their patients.

International Nursing Recruitment

International recruitment allows health systems to address staffing shortages and enhance diversity and expertise within healthcare teams. International recruitment is one of the innovative ways organizations can alleviate their immediate workforce challenges, fill specialized roles, and bring diverse perspectives and cultural competence to patient care.

This is also a strategic way to address the evolving needs of patients and existing clinicians, as it opens the door for educational opportunities by bringing together healthcare professionals from different backgrounds who can share and learn from each other’s varied experiences.

Controlling Costs

Effective cost control is vital to alleviate constrained budgets. Partnering with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) effectively controls costs. Many healthcare organizations have traditionally relied solely on Vendor Management System (VMS) technology, but while this is an essential tool, in the face of pandemic-fueled clinician shortages facilities need a strategic, long-term solution.

The scale of an MSP enables lower bill rates, consolidated services, and subsequent cost control of both hard and soft dollars. This allows facilities to control their expenses better.

In anticipation of the 2024 healthcare landscape, leaders must prioritize workforce stabilization, combatting staffing shortages, focusing on clinician wellness, embracing international nursing recruitment, and strategically controlling costs. Awareness of these trends empowers healthcare leaders to be proactive in navigating future challenges while maintaining quality of care in their hospitals.

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