Temporary Allied Healthcare 2021 Professional Staffing Trends
As an industry leader in healthcare staffing, AMN Healthcare annually publishes multiple surveys and reports to provide data on a variety of healthcare workforce-related topics. In 2021, AMN’s inaugural Survey of Temporary Allied Healthcare Professional Staffing Trends helped shed light on the use of temporary allied healthcare professionals at hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare facilities nationwide. Data for this report was gathered through surveys emailed to healthcare executives and managers at these facilities during August and September of 2021. Survey findings indicate that despite the already elevated usage of temporary allied healthcare workers, facilities continue to seek temporary workers to bolster their staffing needs in an uncertain climate.
Who Are Allied Healthcare Professionals?
The ASAHP defines allied health broadly as “those health professionals that are distinct from medicine and nursing,” encapsulating most healthcare disciplines outside of advance practice, nursing, and physicians. Of the over 80 job categories in allied healthcare, important disciplines to note include:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech-language pathologists
- Respiratory therapists
Personnel Shortages Permeating the Allied Healthcare Sector
Though healthcare is currently the number on employment sector, staffing shortages across a multitude of healthcare disciplines—including physician, nursing, and allied healthcare positions—have become a reality around the country.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing shortages have been particularly exacerbated, driving demand for certain disciplines and potentially causing healthcare professionals to change roles or leave their professions entirely. As suggested by the 2021 Survey of Temporary Allied Healthcare Professionals Staffing Trends, temporary allied healthcare professionals have been widely adopted by hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare facilities to support their permanent staffs.
Of the healthcare facility managers who responded to the survey, 96% indicated that their facilities have used temporary allied healthcare professionals sometime over the last year. Considering the already heightened usage, 75% of respondents said they are currently seeking additional temporary allied healthcare professionals—illustrating a continuance of staffing shortages in allied healthcare.
The Benefits of Using Temporary Allied Professionals
Addressing this increase in demand with temporary allied healthcare professionals is pivotal in healthcare facilities maintaining quality of care for all patients. Of survey respondents, 74% indicated they use temporary allied healthcare professionals to fill gaps in their staffs while seeking to fill permanent positions. Temporary allied healthcare staffing is an effective stopgap for facilities as they attempt to bolster their permanent staff but has also become a crucial solution to exacerbated turnover rates in the wake of COVID-19—71% of respondents saying they used temporary allied healthcare professionals to fill vacancies caused by staff departures.
Outside of addressing overall staffing shortages, the primary benefit of using temporary allied healthcare professionals is the prevention of staff burnout—73% of respondents indicating burnout prevention as a main benefit of using temporary allied healthcare professionals. This alarming response can be attributed to the mental and emotional toll that COVID-19 has taken on many healthcare professionals.
That is not to say that burnout was not a concern before the pandemic, but it has clearly become a greater issue since. Bringing on temporary allied healthcare professionals can directly relieve the burden on permanent staff, allowing them to find balance between their jobs and focusing on family and personal wellbeing—and it is a way for healthcare facilities to show support for their staffs more meaningfully.
Providing Continuity of Care
Another benefit of temporary allied healthcare staffing, voiced by 66% of survey respondents, is providing continuity of care to patients. An issue predating COVID-19, staffing gaps can reduce patient access to necessary services, decrease patient satisfaction, and eventually lead to patients leaving for competitors. Using temporary professionals to fill those gaps can help maintain continuity of care, driving better healthcare outcomes and increased patient retention.
Preventing Revenue Loss
Laboratory technologists, imaging technologists, and other allied healthcare professionals are crucial components to generating revenue for healthcare facilities, being involved in many of the ancillary services that help establish their bottom lines. With many of these services rebounding after early COVID-19 restrictions, it is imperative that facilities can fulfill patient needs and keep revenue flowing in. Temporary allied healthcare professionals can reinforce the continuity of revenue along with continuity of care. Facility managers agree, 24% of survey respondents seeing revenue loss prevention as a benefit of temporary staff.
AMN Healthcare’s 2021 Survey of Temporary Allied Healthcare Professional Staffing Trends supports the notion that temporary staffing usage is widespread among allied healthcare professions, signaling the reality of worker shortages across disciplines and facilities nationwide.
In addition to meeting excessive demand, temporary allied healthcare staffing can help alleviate staff burnout, provide continuity of care for patients, and safeguard against revenue losses during uncertain times. Temporary staff can not only help repair the damages caused by COVID-19, but also provide strength and security as we head toward a new future in healthcare.
AMN Healthcare's Allied Services Team is ready to support and find a solution for your staffing needs with talented health care professionals and client specialists.
Call 800-236-8038 or submit a staffing request to start working with one of our consultants.