Healthcare workforce shortages by the numbers

Healthcare's workforce shortages have sparked calls to action from hospitals and leaders at the national level.

In a statement submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee on Feb. 10, the American Hospital Association described the issue as critical, saying "the incredible physical and emotional toll that hospital workers have endured in caring for patients during the pandemic has, among other issues, exacerbated the shortage."

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, also issued an advisory May 23 calling the country "to address a growing threat to our individual and collective health: health worker burnout."

The topic has gone mainstream as well, with many Americans expressing concerns in February regarding healthcare's workforce shortages.  

Here are six numbers related to the shortages:

1. According to a May 11 McKinsey report, the United States could see a deficit of 200,000 to 450,000 registered nurses available for direct patient care by 2025. 

2. With openings expected from nurses changing occupations or exiting the labor force, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new registered nurses nationwide by 2030.

3. Within the next five years, the U.S. faces a projected shortage of more than 3.2 million lower-wage healthcare workers such as medical assistants, home health aides and nursing assistants, according to a Mercer report

4. The U.S. could face a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to data released June 11 from the Association of American Medical Colleges.  

5. Pharmacy technicians are in short supply at hospitals and health systems, with nearly 1 in 10 organizations reporting they had lost at least 41 percent of these workers, according to new American Society of Health System Pharmacists surveys released March 15. 

6. Hospitals and health systems are working to tackle workforce shortages. For example, UW Health is offering nurses $100 more per hour if they work extra shifts as part of the Madison, Wis.-based organization's internal travel program.  

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