Kaiser exec: 3 ways to ease healthcare workforce shortage

As the nation's hospitals and health systems continue to seek solutions to an ongoing shortage of healthcare workers, Anthony Barrueta, the senior vice president of government relations for Kaiser, says simply focusing on hiring is not enough.

"A focus on new hiring is not enough," Mr. Barrueta wrote in a March 7 blog post. "America must build a larger, more diverse health care workforce while executing on strategies that support teamwork and flexibility."

To keep up with demand, the U.S. needs 1.1 million additional nurses by 2030 as well as 3.2 million staff in healthcare positions like medical assistants to support operations. It is also estimated that by 2034, the country could see a deficit of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians. 

To effectively grow and retain healthcare professionals, Mr. Barrueta argues policymakers and lawmakers should implement three key strategies: 

  1. Expand funding and assistance for residency programs and create more residency slots in underserved areas, tuition assistance and loan forgiveness.

  2. Expand flexibility of some license training requirements for healthcare professionals to "allow more health care professionals to practice sooner" and "create more opportunities for those who do not have the time or money to enable them to pursue extended training."

  3. Prioritize making telehealth policies implemented during COVID-19 permanent to continue access to needed services.

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