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Navigating the Post-COVID Shortage of Healthcare Workers

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

As the US is gradually recovering from the shifts brought on by the Covid-19 Pandemic, there is a looming shortage of healthcare workers especially with support roles such as Registered Nurses (RN's), Nurse Practitioners, and Medical Assistants - highlighting the importance of Healthcare Staffing support for Providers across the country. The global pandemic brought with it an unprecedented crisis that overwhelmed healthcare systems across the globe, prioritizing treating and managing COVID patients while everything else took a back seat.

The Healthcare Community had to improvise when it came to patients requiring chronic care management or even a minor consult that deemed a visit to the hospital unnecessary. There has been a rise in telehealth services - please see our article on Remote Patient Monitoring for more information about how providers began implementing new ways to provide care for COVID patients in their homes.

With the vaccination levels now on the rise, we can see some semblance of normalcy reappearing and there is a substantial increase in demand for healthcare staffing - both clinical and administrative. As medical offices and health care facilities try to add staff as back up, many will face difficulties.

Although about 50,000 jobs have been added to the health care sector since January, the U.S. will need more than 500,000 jobs to get back to pre-pandemic levels. This means that a lot of new workers will need to be trained to replace those who have left the workforce and increase staffing to meet the demand for health care services.

Nurses have taken on a particularly heavy burden during the pandemic, with many expected to leave the profession early. A survey by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) found that “20 percent of national nurses associations (NNAs) reported an increased rate of nurses leaving the profession in 2020.” Additionally, 90 percent of the associations reported concern that the pandemic is driving increased numbers of nurses to leave, or reporting an intention to leave the profession once the pandemic is over. Due to the significant physical and mental strain from COVID-19 and increased rates of burnout globally, ICN estimated that the nursing workforce alone could hit a shortfall of 13 million by 2030.

While the pandemic has brought renewed attention to the health worker crisis worldwide, with campaigns such as the WHO announcing 2021 the Year of the Health and Care Worker, global health leaders have been working to develop a more coordinated response to the shortage for many years.

COVID-19 has focused the world’s attention on the lifesaving work that nurses and other health workers do every day. It is time for governments and funders to strengthen the health systems that support these essential workers. It is critical to protect our current health workers and address the widening health worker gap not only now, but post-pandemic. The health workforce has a vital role in building the resilience of communities and health systems to respond to disasters caused by natural or artificial hazards, as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.

Expert healthcare staffing can fill staffing gaps quickly and with quality nurses, which can improve the overall nurse work environment, including reducing staff problems such as last-minute scheduling changes, overtime, forced floating, and other means of covering open shifts.

AK Strategies offers a full complement of Healthcare human resources and recruitment support. We have many qualified candidates available for hire and seek to ensure our clients have access to candidates that have the right education, experience, licenses, and certifications that are applicable and appropriate for each role requisition sought. We will identify, screen, ensure medical clearance (as required), and provide your agency with qualified candidates. Get in touch today if you need help staffing for your Healthcare organization.

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