New Approaches Needed as Healthcare Staffing Demand Outstrips Supply: AMN President Ralph Henderson

 Workforce-IssuesThe growing need for healthcare professionals, fueled by the Affordable Care Act and other factors, has surged to all-time highs with no slowdown in sight, said Ralph Henderson, President, Professional Services and Staffing at AMN Healthcare, the nation’s leader and innovator in healthcare staffing and workforce solutions. 

“We don’t see anything on the horizon that is going to dramatically increase the supply of nurses, physicians and allied professionals, nor that will dramatically decrease the rising demand,” he said.

The resulting workforce shortages are increasing the competition for qualified new hires and prompting the need for innovative recruitment approaches, said Henderson.

Factors Driving Shortages

Along with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has added 20 million people to the roles of the insured, Henderson said other factors feeding the supply and demand imbalance include:

  • Worker retirement surge. TThe healthcare workforce is older than the general population, so the industry is facing a tidal wave of retirements of experienced workers. This will make supply problems even worse.
  • Rising utilization. The U.S. population is aging; overall healthcare utilization increases significantly with age.
  • Lower unemployment. An improving economy and lower unemployment rates mean people have more employer-provided health insurance and more money in their pockets for co-pays and deductibles.
  • Changing provider roles. The transformation of our nation’s healthcare system is requiring many new and emerging care provider roles – like care coordinators, coders, and a variety of executive functions.

While most healthcare professional education programs are producing more graduates, these increases are modest and won’t keep up with demand, Henderson said. “Besides, healthcare providers need experienced clinicians and new grads usually can’t fill those roles,” he added, noting that burgeoning retirements will further exacerbate the situation.

The Magnitude of the Problem

Henderson said federal statistics illustrate the extent of worker shortages. “Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the gap between healthcare job openings and healthcare job hires has been growing since about mid-2014. Right now, that gap is running at about 500,000 unfilled jobs,” he said.

The issue isn’t news to the healthcare staffing industry. “We know about this problem first-hand because none of us are able to fill all of the orders we receive for healthcare professionals,” Henderson said.

Shortages Require New Approaches

For the healthcare industry, shortages mean the need to consider new ways of thinking about talent recruiting. “The healthcare industry as a whole really needs to take a hard look at its processes for sourcing clinical talent, increasing preceptor programs and improving the deployment and retention of existing staff,” Henderson said.

“The old ways of posting open jobs and waiting for applicants to come to your door just won’t work today. Healthcare organizations must tap into the most advanced sourcing methods available to staff their facilities with quality professionals,” he said, noting that broad outreach and ongoing engagement are key.

“The 21st century process for finding the right nurses, physicians and allied professionals requires the widest possible digital footprint, engaging quality clinicians through the largest clinical database and activating them with an expert recruitment team – all of which is driven by the engine of candidate insight and analytics. Without this cutting-edge digital approach, healthcare organizations are at a real disadvantage in the current war for talent.”

AMN Healthcare Services Grow to Meet Changing Client Needs

Henderson said AMN recognized early on that evolving healthcare market dynamics, new technologies and changes in worker behavior would impact clients’ talent requirements.

“We made investments in systems and acquired top companies which, when combined with our core businesses, make us the undisputed leader in finding, deploying and retaining healthcare professionals,” said Henderson, noting that today AMN has the nation’s largest clinical database and most effective recruitment operation.

“We’re helping clients maximize and optimize their staff through workforce solutions, such as Managed Services Programs (MSP), Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), and predictive analytics that accurately forecast staffing requirements.”

The company’s services also recently expanded to include the nation’s top interim leadership and executive search experts, he said. “In this rapidly changing environment, excellence in leadership is vital. A vacancy in a clinical or administrative leadership position for even a short period of time can have repercussions on care quality and the bottom line. That’s why we’re providing recruitment experts specializing in healthcare leadership, so that interim and permanent hires can be accomplished quickly with the best possible person filling the role.”

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