May 17, 2023
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 1.1 million new registered nurses will be needed in 2023, with more than 500,000 expected to retire in 2022. That's the projected retirement. Signs also point to younger nurses leaving the profession. One if the reasons are because of their mental health. 29% of healthcare workers are considering leaving the industry due to Covid-related burnout, and 6 in 10 say the stress of the pandemic has damaged their mental health.
While it's not ideal, help may be on the way, as Health and Human Services recently announced a $103 million plan to try to reduce burnout among healthcare workers.
So, who will replace them? There has been an increase in interest in nursing schools, as evidenced by the nearly 6% increase in baccalaureate nursing programs last year. However, nursing programs still turn away qualified applicants due to resource and faculty constraints. Program growth will not outweigh potential departures, as the average age of nurses in America is 513.
The average turnover cost of a registered nurse at the bedside is $40,038 and ranges from $28,400 to $51,700, resulting in an average hospital loss of between $3.6M - $6.5M/year. That it may also lead to an increased administrative burden on the remaining staff. The need to fill these positions creates more work for HR services, on-the-job training, and occupational health risks. The "brain drain" creates another significant low cost as doctors with decades of experience are replaced by those with less experience. Turnover caused by overworked nurses and staff burnout can have serious implications for patient care if not properly managed.
Contingent staffing, especially with the right managed services partner (MSP), can provide experienced clinicians to help address this gap. Clinicians who do not complete their assignments can create more expensive "churn." Using medics is most effective when they complete their assignments, accept an extension, or even fill a position permanently.
Maintaining quality doctors must be a priority for quality patient care. When asked, 94.8% of hospitals said they see retention as a "key strategic imperative" and to a lesser extent evident from operational practice/planning. Almost all hospitals have retention initiatives (80.7%), but only half (51.4%) have linked them to a measurable goal that must be part of retention strategies.
The pandemic has exposed pain points and provided some "must-have" elements for any sustainment strategy to deal with the "mass resignation" in the health sector. Some steps to increase retention include reducing burnout and fatigue, encouraging flexible work arrangements, creating a better culture, implementing proactive communication, and a proactive strategy that can deliver travelers who are a good fit.
There is a great demand for quality clinics and there is a shortage of them. The reality of this job market may persist for some time. Strategic planning to retain existing staff and expand passenger units can help bridge the gap.