With advancements in healthcare leading to longer lifespans, medical personnel have to deal with a surge in the number of patients. Although healthcare workers are committed to providing the best care for patients, the current backlog of patients may be more than they can handle. According to current research, there could be a shortage of as much as 104,900 medical staff members by 2030.
Is Healthcare Experiencing a Labor Crisis?
According to College America, the healthcare industry is an increasingly fast-growing job industry in the United States and is in high demand for qualified, hard-working, and caring individuals to join the workforce. Healthcare workers today have their pick from any number of well-paying clinics or practices. But despite this, the situation on the ground shows that we are heading toward a labor crisis. Currently, a large number of nurses and physicians belong to the baby boomer generation. Within the next few years, most of these workers will retire and leave the healthcare industry with fewer employees.
Below are other factors that suggest we are heading toward a labor crisis.
The situation is likely to grow worse since training in health professions takes a significant amount of time. For a person to become a registered nurse, he or she has to work and study for two or more years, while studying to become a doctor or surgeon takes more than nine years, and is incredibly stressful. And to top it off, many healthcare professionals need to invest significant amounts of money into their training and career. Even after school, they need to pay for certifications. For doctors, they will need to oversee not only malpractice insurance, but specific disability insurance for their specialization. It can be overwhelming for many individuals. Unresolved issues exist in our current training of medical professionals. This means it will take some time to replace the retiring nurses and doctors.
We should also not forget the fact that healthcare is governed by different state laws. Even if a doctor wanted to go help in another state, he or she would have to check that his or her license would work with a certain regional accreditation. Some states require physicians to be accredited internally before they can practice. This scenario also contributes to the current shortage of healthcare workers because the mobility of physicians is limited.
Another factor that shows healthcare is heading for a labor crisis is the high turnover rate, which is higher than other industries. Many healthcare professionals are quitting their jobs at big hospitals and going into the consultation business. Others are just enticed by better offers from other hospitals. An insanely high demand for healthcare workers exists in the United States, and it doesn’t look like the situation is going to ameliorate.
We are on our way to a labor crisis in the healthcare industry. Physicians and nurses are demanding better salaries to compensate them for the increased workload. Going to medical school is becoming more expensive, and few can afford the fees, limiting the number of doctors in training.
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Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison