The Truth About the U.S. Nursing Shortage

April 5, 2023
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* This blog is part of the Flexible Nursing and Allied Health Workforce series.


It’s a new age in healthcare. But it’s an age not driven by new technology or advancements in medicine, but by workforce demands and labor shortages, especially for nurses.

A new facility, neurotechnology, or 3-D printing for presurgical planning can’t hide the fact that there aren’t enough nurses on the floor. Diagnosing diseases with artificial intelligence isn’t going to shorten a six-hour wait for a patient in need because you don’t have the available staff. This new age is feeding frustration for patients, burnout for staff, and increased turnover that only exacerbates the problem.

The Nursing Shortage is Here

The truth about the nursing shortage in the United States is complex. According to a recent study by the Advisory Board, increased turnover is behind the current staffing shortages. In 2020, the average RN turnover was 18.6%, even higher (24.6%) for nurses with less than one year experience.

The problem is made worse by the time and difficulty in filling open positions. It took an average of 89 days to fill an open bedside RN position in 2021, according to the Advisory Board. That’s time where patient frustration grows, and staff burnout increases.

Behind these healthcare challenges are several other factors:

  • Increased Need for Healthcare: A confluence of external factors means that more people need healthcare. This includes the continuing aftereffects of a pandemic and an aging population with increased medical needs and complex chronic conditions.
  • Current Demand Gap for Nurses: It’s widely accepted that there aren’t enough nurses to cover current needs. Healthcare leaders are already behind in implementing staffing solutions even as they look ahead to addressing future needs.
  • Staff Exhaustion and Burnout: As turnover increases in conjunction with increased need, there is more pressure on current staff. Exhaustion and burnout become a factor as your staff struggles to cover the gap and provide exceptional care.
  • The Education Pipeline is Taxed: A solution to the nursing shortage isn’t available in the U.S. education pipeline. Nursing education isn’t designed to rapidly recruit and place new students to fill the need, and the existing pipeline isn’t adequate.
  • External Pressures on the Workforce: The labor shortage isn’t just impacting healthcare, but other industries including manufacturing and retail. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has found that 3 million people have left the workforce since February 2020. The competition for new workers is fierce.
  • Additional Staffing Challenges. Along with a nursing shortage, healthcare leaders are also struggling to fill other positions, including physicians.  These challenges put additional strain on staff already stressed to the breaking point.

Experts predict that the current labor crisis is only going to grow worse, as patient rooms fill and fewer nurses and other allied health professionals are available to care for them. It’s a problem that feeds itself, one that will get worse if it’s not addressed now.

Healthcare leaders need a solution. For many, healthcare workforce flexibility is that solution.

The New Normal: Workforce Flexibility

For healthcare, workforce flexibility recognizes that the current labor demands require innovative, customized solutions. Workforce flexibility is about providing resources for your current staff so they can better perform their duties and increase your staff retention. It’s also looking at other options to deliver those resources, which can include cross-specialization, automation, rethinking the traditional shifts and their responsibilities, or working with a staffing partner.

To address nationwide workforce flexibility, facilities are exploring ways to provide and implement it without compromising the quality of care. A single, one-size-fits-all solution isn’t adequate for an issue as complex as providing workforce flexibility to address the labor shortage. Rather companies need to develop a customized solution.

For example, rural facilities may need a solution that addresses longer-term staffing needs as recruitment capabilities are limited. Whereas an urban facility may require amore adaptable staffing solution to provide the workforce flexibility that improves overall retention.

Finding a staffing partner that can provide a spectrum of solutions, customized to meet your strategic needs, is the only way to adequately address the current nursing shortage.

A Partnership Solution to the Nursing Shortage

Healthcare leaders are actively working with Health Carousel to implement customized and strategic solutions to address the nursing and allied health shortage.

The spectrum of services offered by Health Carousel provides a depth and breadth of critical resources that few other companies can match. It’s based around a leading, transformative healthcare technology platform that connects you to a deep pool of staffing resources – solutions are literally at your fingertips.

That includes short-term travel nurses and allied health professionals that can take pressure of current staff to long-term international nurses and allied health that provide staffing stability even during these challenging times. You’ll also work closely with a member of the Health Carousel team to develop a customized long-term strategy that addresses not only current needs but looks to the future to build a foundational solution that focuses on patient care and sustainable staffing answers.

The new normal in healthcare staffing is workforce flexibility. It addresses the needs of staffing through partnership and innovative solutions and looks beyond your immediate hiring market to a global talent pool. Flexible support helps already overworked nursing staff so they can provide better care. And last, but never least, it’s about leveraging a technology platform to quickly address needs as they happen and working side-by-side with a leader in healthcare staffing solutions.

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Mastering Healthcare Staffing: Unlocking the Power of Clinic Workforce Solutions

How Cleveland Clinic Upskilled Staff Amid COVID Crisis

Integrated workforce solutions improve patient care and achieve staffing stability

About Health Carousel

Health Carousel is committed to partnering with world-class healthcare facilities across the country, providing rewarding assignments for Registered Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, and attracting the best internal talent at all career levels.