Employment Trends Healthcare

Health Care Shortage Spurs Hospitals to Increase Education

Written by Joanna Hughes

There is currently a shortage of U.S. health care personnel, and it is only likely to get worse. According to a study by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, within the next 10 or 15 years, 1 million nurses are expected to retire. Additionally, the number of practicing physicians is expecting a shortfall of 55,000 by 2020.

The aging population will have a large impact on the number of nurse jobs and other health-related positions sorely needed to keep facilities running.

A large number of students require additional background coursework in order to take credited health care courses, which deters people from pursing health care careers. Often, these additional courses are in more difficult areas of study, such as mathematics or chemistry. Instead of tackling them, students are switching career paths.

Alternatives to Community College

Some hospitals are offering in-house training programs to ensure that appropriate staffing will continue. In Michigan, one program allows employees to work while training to obtain medical assistant jobs. Upon completion, the employee will be licensed and credentialed, a bonus for the hospital employer and a practical way for an employee interested in the health care field to gain knowledge.

Hospital Strategies

Many hospitals realize that happy employees are more likely to stay on the job and may work past retirement age. Some offer in-house training programs, and others offer tuition reimbursement as incentive to continue toward a degree or licensure.

Because of the anticipation of a continued shortage, some hospitals have found that pairing an entry level employee with a seasoned  one helps keep the older employee up on the latest technologies in the field, while the younger employee has the benefit of the other’s years of expertise.

Hospital and Community College Cooperation

In some areas, such as the San Francisco Bay area, hospitals have been working in conjunction with community colleges to offer training and additional support for nursing staff. By combining classes and residency experience at one time, trainees feel more confident, and the retention rate is higher.

In addition, it gives the hospital the opportunity to train nursing students in needed positions, such as surgical assistants in the operating room. Other employees who are not taking nursing classes are offered tuition reimbursement, and the hospital continues to pay their salary while they attend school if the individual expresses an interest in furthering their career in health care.

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About the author

Joanna Hughes

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who specializes in business, human resources and the job market. She lives with her family in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire.