Healthcare employment in 20 numbers

Healthcare employment has fluctuated in recent years amid changing economic circumstances and as workers departed their roles for various reasons.

Here are 20 numbers that provide a snapshot of hospital and health system employment, based on reports, studies and other data sources cited in the American Hospital Association's 2023 Healthcare Workforce Scan, released Nov. 16.

1. Healthcare employment is projected to grow 13 percent from 2021 to 2031 — much faster than the average for all occupations, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase is expected to add about 2 million new jobs during this period.

2. More than 355,000 nurse practitioners are licensed to practice in the U.S., according to an estimate the American Association of Nurse Practitioners released April 7. This is a 9 percent increase from the estimated 325,000 reported in May 2021.

3. Healthcare workers report experiencing ongoing strain amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with 23 percent saying they are likely to leave the field soon, according to a USA Today/Ipsos Poll released Feb. 22. The poll was conducted Feb. 9-16 among a nationally representative probability sample of 1,170 adult healthcare workers. The workers included physicians, nurses, paramedics, therapists and other professionals.

4. Hospital CEOs ranked workforce shortages as their top concern last year. That's according to the American College of Healthcare Executives' annual survey. Most CEOs (94 percent) ranked a deficit of registered nurses as the most pressing within the category of personnel shortages, with technicians (85 percent), therapists (67 percent), primary care physicians (45 percent), physician specialists (43 percent) and physician extenders (31 percent) following. 

5. About 9.7 million people work in lower-wage healthcare positions with the need in the next five years increasing to 10.7 million, according to Mercer’s "2021 External Healthcare Labor Market Analysis." The report, released last year, examined healthcare workforce statistics during the next five to 10 years in each state and at county, state, regional and national levels. 

6.  The U.S. could face a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to data released June 11, 2021, from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The estimate compares to the association's 2020 report, which projected a shortage of 54,100 to 139,000 physicians by 2033.

7. Last year, the turnover rate for staff registered nurses increased by 8.4 percent, resulting in a national average of 27.1 percent. That's according to the 2022 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report.

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