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Will The US Healthcare Staffing Problem Continue in 2024?

surgeon general

The healthcare sector is complex and its overall efficiency and ability to meet demand is dependent on many factors, including the resourcing of its human talent. 

This has in particular suffered challenges in recent times, driven by issues such as many medical doctors retiring from the profession, reduced immigration affecting nursing numbers, fewer students with nursing degrees and an overall shortage of active job seekers in the healthcare profession. 

© Artur Tumasjan

How likely are these problems to continue in 2024 and what can be done to ameliorate them?

The 2024 outlook for staffing in the healthcare sector

You may have read in the media that up to 6.5 million healthcare professionals are predicted to leave the profession by 2026, while less than 2 million are likely to be recruited.

While these numbers do sit on the more pessimistic end of the scale, it does seem likely that staffing problems will continue and, indeed, increase in 2024.

One of the issues is the US immigration policy which has limited green cards for nurses from other countries. This is likely to further exacerbate the existing gap in nursing numbers across the sector.

Strategies to address the problem

One way that this could be mitigated is through better use of existing employee time. For example, delegating general administrative tasks to non-clinical staff could free up nurses (and caregivers of other profiles) to focus more on their primary area of responsibility.

A more direct way to affect staffing levels is through faster and more efficient recruitment of new healthcare professionals, and in the challenging labour market climate expected in 2024, specialist medical recruiters will be well-positioned to help.

One of their major advantages is that they run databases of active job seekers. This means they can draw on a large pool of candidates currently seeking roles in the healthcare industry.

They have specialized knowledge enabling them to do accurate matching of applicants to vacant positions, and they can undertake the initial selection, including assessment and interviews.

A good medical recruiter will work closely with their client in the healthcare industry, visit their premises and strive to understand their values and work culture.

This will enable them to promote the vacant positions to the right candidates, reducing time wastage and increasing the likelihood of successful recruitment.

This can help to prevent loss of income due to patients potentially leaving to go to a different healthcare provider.

While medical recruiters do charge fees, this can often be offset by the prevention of loss of revenue due to prolonged understaffing.

What other strategies can be undertaken to mitigate the expected continuation of staffing problems, for the healthcare providers?

Any organization will benefit from creating a more welcoming workplace for its employees, and employee satisfaction should be on the list of priorities because this can reduce your overall turnover. Fewer people quitting means fewer people who need replacing.

Streamlining of general business processes, such as purchasing and supply chain management, can be another area that yields benefits and is expected to be one of the upcoming trends in the heathcare industry.

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