Home health, nursing face job shortages, report finds
- A new analysis from Mercer's Workforce Strategy and Analytics practice highlights six occupations in healthcare that will face shortages by 2025: home health aides, nursing assistants, lab technologists, lab technicians, nurse practitioners and physicians.
- The healthcare industry is poised to add about 2.4 million new jobs by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Mercer, most of those jobs will be in home health.
- While Mercer predicts the industry will be short 11,000 physicians and surgeons by 2025, the Association of American Medical Colleges has estimated a shortage of as many as 121,000 doctors by 2030.
Mercer's analysis highlights industry anxiety about a looming physician shortage, projecting the following workforce shortages in six occupations:
- Home health aides: 446,300.
- Nursing assistants: 95,000.
- Medical and clinical lab technologists: 58,700.
- Medical and lab technicians: 40,000.
- Nurse practitioners: 29,400.
- Physicians and surgeons, all other: 11,000.
Some experts believe the hype over physician shortage is a tad overwrought, suggesting the shortfall could be averted by using care teams more selectively and shifting more care to nurse practitioners and physician assistants. However, Mercer's analysis shows those jobs are staring down a workforce gap as well.
Several factors affect the physician shortage, including an aging workforce and consumer population. According to AAMC, more than a third of practicing physicians will be 65 or older within the next decade and looking to retire. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there will be 83.7 million Americans aged 65 and older by 2050, nearly double the roughly 43 million in 2012.
Home health aides top Mercer's projections. Home healthcare, an industry that boasts some of the fastest rates of job growth in the country, is often touted as an occupation free from the risk of being replaced by automation. However, for 55% of home health aides, wages sit below 200% of the federal poverty line.
While the home healthcare industry is yet to reckon with low wages, hospitals are ramping up retention efforts by investing in talent. HCA Healthcare executives recently told Reuters that the company is hoping to attract and retain nurses by earmarking $300 million in employee benefits.
The healthcare industry added 24,000 jobs in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, totaling 305,000 healthcare jobs on the year. Some hospitals are already feeling the burn of the coming workforce shortage. In October, the Denver VA Medical Center said it was delaying dozens of surgeries due to a shortfall of anesthesiologists.
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