Overcoming Workforce Challenges in the Healthcare Industry


Adina Anderson

. 3 min read


Today’s marketplace and industrial sectors are constantly changing with the regular forces in the market (Abbott and Coenen 2008, 10). The health sector is among these sectors that are changing enormously with time considering that regularly there are new emergencies, inventions, new market demands, regulations and sector improvements. The human resource management of an organization is responsible for the management of its workers and overseeing their development through working measures. By leveraging these innovative apps, healthcare organizations can optimize their workforce management, streamline operations, improve compliance, and enhance the overall quality of care delivered to patients.

Why are there Staffing Shortages in Health Care?

1. Aging Population

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 16.8% of the population was aged 65 or older in 2021, and it predicts that number will grow to 21% in 2030. Older people often require more care, whether in hospitals or nursing homes. They are more likely to have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease and to need care for conditions such as dementia.

2. Burnout

Health care providers are vulnerable to burnout, defined as physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. Burnout can cause poor performance, which can lead to medical errors. It can also cause feelings of guilt and shame among providers. Burnout can lead directly to staffing shortages in health care, as people leave the profession. According to a survey by staffing agency Incredible Health, 34% of nurses said they would leave their jobs by the end of 2022, with 44% saying that stress and burnout contributed to their decision.

3. Lack of Labor Issues Across Professions

Many new healthcare positions remain unfilled for months to even years, especially in rural areas. Even facilities that are staffed appropriately face the challenge of a lack of healthcare workers during a busy season (such as the peak influenza months). It is difficult for managers to balance the supply of workers with the demanding patient load. This includes not only physicians and registered nurses, but also allied health professionals, imaging technologists, dosimetrists, etc. Each profession suffers from a lack of labor issue. And the reality is, there is no easy solution.

Ways to Address the Shortage of Health Care Workers

1. Increase the number of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals being educated

That may sound simplistic, but it is not. The largest impediment to training more health care workers is the availability of clinical training experiences in hospitals and clinics. As financial margins have tightened and clinician workloads have increased over the past three decades, health care facilities and practicing clinicians have fewer resources and less time to devote to training students.

2. Support and Expand Partnerships Between Universities and Community Health Care

The single most important way to reverse that is to support and expand partnerships between universities and community health care settings to develop additional residencies for graduating medical students as well as clinical training opportunities for nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology technicians, and others. Doing this requires revising the antiquated funding policies of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which make it very difficult to grow more medical residency placements.

3. Focus on Staff Retention with Recognition and Engagement

Employee retention in healthcare comes with challenges. Associates may face burnout and become disengaged. Strategically addressing these challenges is a must for leaders in healthcare organizations. Learn about five ways to start improving employee retention. The first step to improving employee retention in healthcare is through strategic recruitment. It's important for healthcare organizations to recruit new associates that best align with their organizational culture.

4. Adopt scheduling best practices

Healthcare providers who need to schedule staff to adequately meet patient needs can use a variety of strategies. For example:

a. Flexible scheduling: Staggered start times, overlapping shifts, and job sharing are some possibilities. These flexible options have the advantage of meeting the needs of nurses and other health professionals who are balancing work and family or other demands.

b. Self-scheduling: Giving workers autonomy in scheduling their shifts leads to greater job satisfaction. This gives nurses and other healthcare workers control over when they work and how much overtime they take on.

c. Data analytics: Workforce planning applications can help managers predict demand using data analytics. These applications use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help identify likely surges in demand.

d. Inadequate Healthcare Staffing Endangers Patients: Research shows that shortages and inadequate staffing are linked to higher rates of infections, patient falls, medication errors, and even mortality. This is because nurses have too much work to juggle and cannot spend enough time on each patient, resulting in missed care.


In conclusion, the healthcare industry is facing numerous challenges related to its workforce. These challenges are multifaceted and range from shortages of healthcare professionals to issues related to burnout, retention, and training. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, highlighting the critical need for a robust healthcare workforce to meet the growing demands of the industry. This includes increasing investments in education and training programs, implementing evidence-based practices to reduce burnout and improve work-life balance, and adopting innovative approaches to recruitment and retention.

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