SAN DIEGO, Nov. 16 Despite the recession, most hospital executives believe there are still too few physicians, nurses and allied healthcare professionals in the United States, and that worker shortages will grow worse if access to healthcare becomes universal.
In a survey of 285 hospital chief executive officers conducted by AMN Healthcare, the nation's largest healthcare staffing company, 95 percent of hospital CEOs said there is a shortage of physicians in the U.S., 91 percent said there is a shortage of nurses, 86 percent said there is a shortage of pharmacists, and 79 percent said there is a shortage of allied healthcare professionals.
Moreover, many CEOs believe there are not enough healthcare workers in their areas to meet the increased demand for medical services that universal access to care would create. Seventy percent said there would not be enough doctors to meet demand if access becomes universal, 51 percent said there would not be enough nurses, 48 percent said there would not be enough allied healthcare professionals and 45 percent said there would not be enough pharmacists.
"While the short-term economic environment may have temporarily eased the ability to recruit and retain clinical staff, the long-term dynamics of an aging population will drive the need for thousands of more healthcare professionals that don't exist today," notes Susan Nowakowski, president of AMN Healthcare. "Any plan to expand access to care would intensify an already anticipated critical shortage of clinicians. Healthcare reform should include robust efforts to train more doctors, nurses and other clinicians," she added.
While CEOs indicated that long-term healthcare worker shortages persist, some said the recession has masked the overall shortage and resulted in a temporary easing of their hospitals' recruitment of clinical workers over the last six months. Over 24 percent of CEOs said the economic downturn caused them to decrease nurse recruiting efforts over the last six months, 16 percent said the downturn had caused them to decrease allied healthcare professional recruiting efforts, and 10 percent said the downturn had caused them to decrease pharmacist recruiting efforts. By contrast, over 24 percent said the downturn had caused them to increase physician recruiting efforts over the last six months. The majority (at least 64 percent) said recruiting efforts at their hospitals over the last six months had not changed.
In the next six months, most hospital CEOs plan to maintain or even increase recruitment of healthcare professionals, the survey suggests. Ninety-three percent expect to maintain or increase physician recruiting efforts, 89 percent expect to maintain or increase nurse recruiting efforts, 91 percent expect to maintain or increase allied healthcare professional recruiting efforts, and 93 percent expect to maintain or increase pharmacist recruiting efforts. Up to 11 percent, however, expect to decrease their efforts to recruit clinical professionals in the next six months.
Shortages of healthcare professionals have compromised access to care in their areas, some CEOs report. Forty-six percent said access to care in their areas has been compromised by physician shortages, 10 percent said access has been compromised by allied healthcare professional shortages, eight percent said access has been compromised by nurse shortages, and three percent said access has been compromised by pharmacists shortages. CEOs reported an average hospital vacancy rate of 11 percent for physicians, six percent for nurses, five percent for allied healthcare professionals and five percent for pharmacists.
AMN Healthcare's 2009 Survey of Hospital Chief Executives Officers was conducted in partnership with The Council on Physician and Nurses Supply, a national group of healthcare experts funded by AMN Healthcare that is dedicated to finding solutions to the shortage of doctors and nurses. Complete survey results are available at http://www.amnhealthcare.com/PDF/09CEOSurvey.pdf and www.physiciannursesupply.com.
About AMN Healthcare
AMN Healthcare is the largest healthcare staffing company in the United States and the leader in all of its service lines, temporary nurse staffing, temporary and permanent physician staffing, and temporary and permanent allied healthcare professional staffing.
About the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply
The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply is an independent, multi-disciplinary group dedicated to studying trends in the demand for physicians and nurses and to proposing ways to better align training capacity with the nation's needs. It is based at the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Care Economics. Funding for the Council is provided by AMN Healthcare, the nation's largest healthcare staffing company, headquartered in San Diego, CA.
SOURCE AMN Healthcare