Key Healthcare Labor Trends for 2022: Combatting Staffing Shortages

Healthcare labor trends graph with stethoscope

Staying on top of healthcare industry trends is important for today’s healthcare leaders. With the impact the pandemic brought to the industry, hospitals and health systems are still facing challenges with staffing and labor management that aren’t expected to go away in the near future.

Managing the fluctuations of COVID patients as well as the demand for other healthcare labor management remains a challenge, but one that many believe can be addressed by evaluating current trends and factors to help mitigate them. What are trends in healthcare labor management and staffing? And how can healthcare leaders stay ahead of them?

Supporting Your Clinical Staff

Since the pandemic, burnout and compassion fatigue among nurses and clinicians has continued to increase. In November 2021, a record 4.5 million people quit their jobs, with healthcare and social assistance workers quitting at a rate of 3.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse burnout rates are increasing and many are considering leaving the profession altogether, with an expected 194,000 registered nursing jobs available annually by next year.

Understanding the needs of your staff is a smart strategy to ensure they can continue to work at the top of their ability. Sharing mental health resources, providing access to fitness and mental health programs, giving recognition, and promoting self-care can all contribute to better support for your staff.

Additionally, there’s also a shift in employee demographic expectations. Currently, the average age of a registered nurse is 52 years old, leaving the most senior and experienced nurses nearing retirement. This leaves positions to be filled by more novice nurses, which brings up generational differences in how the younger nurses view their careers and work-life balance.

“The workplace has now become a millennial, Gen Z workplace, said Therese Fitzpatrick, senior vice president at Kaufman Hall. “I think in the next year we’re going to see a lot of attention being devoted to that, and that’s going to express itself in flexibility in terms of staffing and scheduling.”

Grow the Pipeline of Incoming Healthcare Workers

On top of making sure that the people who work for you feel supported, there’s also room to provide more educational opportunities for future healthcare professionals. In 2020, student enrollment in nursing schools increased despite concerns that the pandemic might impact interest in the field.

According to data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) the interest in these nursing programs was strong, yet thousands of qualified applicants were turned away due to a shortage of clinical sites, faculty and resource constraints. Additionally, RN to BSN programs declined for the second year in a row. RN to BSN programs are linked to better patient outcomes and offer practicing nurses the opportunity to advance.

In an effort to balance this recent decline, the AACN reports there are 11 new RN to BSN programs in the planning stages. This combined with the high demand for nurse employers for baccalaureate-prepared clinicians, it is hopeful the decline can be corrected.

On top of these upcoming planned program efforts, there’s room at the organization level to be more proactive in education.

“We’re seeing some really creative things with new and refreshed partnerships with local colleges and universities, some really entrusting multi-system initiatives,” said Fitzpatrick. “[There are] several of the big health systems coming together in this program they call the Bridge Initiative to really build that pipeline from high school and make resources and coursework and money available to students coming up in their professional career.”

Embracing Nimble Staffing Solutions

The healthcare industry labor trend that’s top of mind for most leaders is the ongoing struggle with staffing shortages. Since the pandemic, there’s been an accelerated need within the industry for nimbler staffing models.

A forward-thinking solution is partnering with a contingency staffing provider. This partnership provides access to qualified candidates. Partnering with an established agency not only provides a greater pool of candidates, but also allows greater staffing flexibility, can reduce administrative hassle with an MSP,  as well as reliability.

Access not just to travel workers but also a whole variety of per-diem nurses, interim staff leaders, part-time clinicians, and more, throughout the entire year can help during seasonal surges or further unexpected shortages. This gives facilities constant access to a large pool of nurses and clinicians to meet their staffing goals at all times, and not when it may be too late.

A partnership with the right staffing partner can help assure that the nurses and clinicians you staff are fully screened, credentialed, and licensed. That means that the candidates you recruit arrive at the time you need them, ready to work and fully knowledgeable about the policies and procedures of your specific facility. The result is more productivity per each professional you employ.

CareerStaff Is Here to Help

Proven by decades of leadership in healthcare workforce management, CareerStaff Unlimited is your partner for staying on top of the biggest healthcare labor trends of 2022, and well beyond. From healthcare staffing and recruitment to comprehensive healthcare MSP services, CareerStaff is standing by to offer the Joint Commission–Certified solutions that today’s leaders need to stay on top.

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