Staying on top of workforce trends can help healthcare employers plan for upcoming employee needs. The start of a new year is a smart time to consider what lies ahead for the industry, to better prepare for future changes and reduce the likelihood of getting caught off guard.
In this first of six articles created to benefit companies that hire healthcare workers, we talk about where the workforce is now as well as where it is expected to be into 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From there, we’ll share how Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) can help you address some of the needs that you may be facing at the moment and anticipate and fill your future workforce needs.
Where the Healthcare Workforce Stands in 2022-2023
The healthcare industry is more than 16.7 million workers strong as of November 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an increase from slightly over 16 million only one year before.1
About half are employed in ambulatory health services, which includes workers in physicians’ offices, dental offices, labs, and home healthcare services. Another 5.2 million healthcare workers are employed by hospitals and a little over 3 million can be found in nursing and residential care facilities.
The Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey breaks this data down further, providing even more insight into the healthcare workforce today. One piece of information it supplies is how many healthcare support workers are in certain occupations. Here are some of those roles, listed in descending order according to the number of workers employed in each role:2
- Nursing assistants
- Personal care aides
- Medical assistants
- Home health aides
- Dental assistants
- Other healthcare support workers
Challenges Facing the Healthcare Industry Today
Some of the challenges facing healthcare workers in 2022 were pandemic-related, including the toll that COVID-19 has taken on employees’ mental and emotional health combined with trying to meet patients’ healthcare needs amidst a major workforce shortage.3
Workforce-related challenges worsened by the pandemic include:4
- greater staffing shortages
- increased turnover rates
- having to turn to short-term contract employees to fill shortages
- navigating the changing landscape of vaccine mandates and employee reactions to them5
These are in addition to the standard employment issues healthcare organizations and facilities have faced in recent non-pandemic years, some of which involve:6
- difficulties acquiring new talent
- employee burnout
- the consistent need to retrain staff
- changing state laws and evolving licensing requirements
Other challenges are related to specific healthcare positions. For instance, in a March 2022 press release, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists revealed that pharmacy technician positions were seeing “severe shortages,” with a recent survey finding that one in 10 hospitals and health systems had lost more than 40% of their employees in this role.7
Healthcare Workforce Predictions Into 2031
Once we understand where we are, it is easier to see where we’re headed. What are the predictions for the healthcare workforce in the next several years?
Growing demand for healthcare workers
The BLS projects that healthcare occupations as a whole will increase by 13% between 2021 and 2031, a rate that is much faster than average for all occupations and will result in the addition of approximately 2 million new jobs.8
It’s important to note that not all healthcare roles will grow at this rate. For instance, the projected growth rate for dental assistants during this same timeframe is a bit lower at 8%9 while the expected growth rate for health information technologists is much higher at 17%.10
Shortage of workers in lower-wage healthcare positions
After analyzing the results of a 2021 study, Mercer (a workplace consulting and advisory firm) projects a shortage of workers in lower-wage healthcare roles such as medical assistant, nursing assistant, and home health aide.11
Their basis for this prediction is that there are currently around 9.7 million healthcare professionals working in lower-wage occupations and this number is expected to increase to 10.7 million. Based on current trends, more than 6.5 million people in these roles will leave their jobs and only 1.9 million new employees will be hired. This creates a shortage of 3.2 million people working in these roles.
UMA Can Help with Your Future (and Current) Healthcare Worker Needs
Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) is committed to helping our employer partners find solutions to their workforce challenges, as well as working with you to meet your current and future healthcare worker needs. One of the ways we do this is by connecting you with UMA grads who meet your hiring requirements and may be a good fit for your organization or business.
At UMA, we strive to provide our graduates with the education and skills needed to fulfill their allied healthcare career choices. This includes not only providing instruction related to their future job duties in healthcare support roles but also customer service training and strategies for boosting their soft skills. Some UMA programs also include an externship or practicum, providing our grads with training in a functioning and operational healthcare environment.
The best part is that we can fill your open healthcare support positions at no cost to you. When we say that we are your partners, we mean it. We’re both members of the same team and we’re working toward a common goal: a stronger, well-trained, and skilled allied healthcare workforce – today and tomorrow.
Visit our website to learn more about what we can do for you as an employer partner. You can also read more articles in this six-part series, the others of which include:
- Top Staffing Challenges in the Healthcare Space
- Contract Workers vs Staffing: The Impact on Healthcare Employers
- Strategies to Reduce Healthcare Turnover Rates
- Effective Ways to Boost Healthcare Employee Retention
- How to Attract Top Healthcare Talent (Even in a High-Demand Market)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic News Release: Table B-1. Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls by Industry Sector and Selected Industry Detail. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm
2 United States Census Bureau. Who Are Our Health Care Workers? https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/04/who-are-our-health-care-workers.html
3 American Hospital Association. AHA Letter Re: Challenges Facing America’s Health Care Workforce as the U.S. Enters Third Year of COVID-19 Pandemic. https://www.aha.org/lettercomment/2022-03-01-aha-provides-information-congress-re-challenges-facing-americas-health
4 Bailey V. COVID-19 Pandemic Exacerbated Healthcare Workforce Challenges. Revcycle Intelligence. https://revcycleintelligence.com/news/covid-19-pandemic-exacerbated-healthcare-workforce-challenges
5 Yang YT, Pendo E, Rubinstein Reiss D. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Healthcare Employer-Mandated Vaccinations. Vaccine. https://www.slu.edu/law/health/pdfs/pendo-vaccine-article.pdf
6 Lytle T. The Health Care Industry’s Top HR Challenges. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/spring2020/pages/health-care-industry-top-hr-challenges.aspx
7 American Society of Health-System Pharmacies. Hospitals and health systems experiencing severe shortage of pharmacy technicians. https://www.ashp.org/news/2022/03/15/hospitals-and-health-systems-experiencing-severe-shortage-of-pharmacy-technicians?loginreturnUrl=SSOCheckOnly
8 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Healthcare Occupations. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
9 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Dental Assistants. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm
10 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars.https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/health-information-technologists-and-medical-registrars.htm
11 Mercer. US Healthcare Labor Market. https://www.mercer.us/content/dam/mercer/assets/content-images/north-america/united-states/us-healthcare-news/us-2021-healthcare-labor-market-whitepaper.pdf