The positive trends in healthcare employment

Amid financial strain and operational challenges, hospitals and health systems have also faced challenges related to recruiting and retaining workers. Workers have exited their organizations, or considered quitting, citing reasons such as not feeling valued, lack of support for their well-being and wages not keeping up with inflation. However, there is a silver lining as healthcare employment has continued to trend up in certain areas.

The most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Nov. 3, shows that healthcare added 58,400 jobs in October, in line with the average monthly gain of 53,000 over the previous 12 months. But it also shows that in October, employment continued to trend up in ambulatory healthcare services (32,400), hospitals (18,100), and nursing and residential care facilities (7,900).

"As has been the case for many months now, the biggest driver of continued job growth was the healthcare and social assistance sector, which added 77,200 jobs [last month] — nearly half of the overall total added [in the U.S.]," Lydia DePillis, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote.

This is not to say that hospitals and health systems are not facing shortages of workers. Nursing care, specialty care, primary care, pharmacy, dentistry and emergency medical services all have projected labor shortages for 2031. But there are notable hiring efforts. In August, there were roughly 17,000 open jobs at more than 20 top hospitals and health systems. Both Renton, Wash.-based Providence and Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic have also recently reported record years for hiring.

At Providence, 33,000 positions had been filled this year as of September, about 19,000 of which were filled by external candidates. This represents a 15 percent increase in total fills and a 23 percent increase in external hires compared with 2022. Providence has also seen close to a 20 percent increase in retention. 

"These factors, working together, have led to some of our lowest vacancy rates, though some units and clinics remain understaffed," spokesperson Melissa Tizon told Becker's at the time. "We're aiming to continue improving, so we can decrease caregiver burnout and ensure every unit and clinic has the capacity to serve our communities as fully as possible."

Brenda Simpson, DNP, RN, division senior vice president and chief nursing officer, facilities, at Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, told Becker's earlier this fall that she has noticed accomplishments when it comes to retention, specifically related to clinician roles. But she acknowledged that vacancy remains a challenge.

"I know we are below our region in terms of vacancy rates. So we're very pleased, and we really believe listening to our clinicians and acting on their voice is what's going to retain," Dr. Simpson said during an interview about summits that allow front-line clinicians to weigh in on staffing plans. 

"But we still see vacancies. I know that we're specifically struggling with imaging technologist and imaging roles as well as surgical tech roles. And I don't think we're alone in that."

Hospitals and health systems continue to grapple with labor pressures, according to Kaufman Hall. Kaufman Hall recommended that organizations create a robust, flexible staffing pool and consider advanced predictive demand modeling to improve staffing plans and minimize unnecessary "flexing."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars