Northern Colorado’s Healthcare Summit brought home the looming catastrophe of nursing shortages across the country. Reports suggest that 33% of nurses and other front-line healthcare workers are planning to retire and change professions. One State worries that 40% of its nursing workforce will exit by the middle of next year. It’s staggering and sobering because no industry I’m familiar with can effectively function after suddenly losing more than a third of its expert workforce.
The suggested fixes offered by various experts at the conference centered on getting more young people interested in healthcare careers and accelerating how some nurses are trained. Unfortunately, traditional nursing schools have limited student capacity and their standard curriculums take too long to address current shortages. The talent crisis is also affecting the availability of medical specialists in key practices. For example, I recently went to a local hospital emergency room due to an aggravated injury and, after a long delay, was discharged with directions to see a specialist without delay. Unfortunately, the earliest available specialist appointment was in January 2022 – four months later! Other colleagues, including a retired MD, have also experienced problems caused by worsening shortages of experienced nurses and medical staff.
Healthcare providers need short to midterm solutions more than long-term plans and strategies. Other critical industries have experienced similar expert shortages and some of their lessons learned are applicable to healthcare. For example, in the mid-1990s, the emerging Internet and digital revolutions were getting bogged down by limited pools of trained tech workers. Many companies around Silicone Valley were so desperate for talent that they offered recruits two-year leases on new BMWs as a signup bonus. Their successes and failures hold important lessons for healthcare leaders struggling to cope with nursing shortages. Those valuable lessons must be thoughtfully considered because, unlike digital commerce, healthcare centers on human life.
We’ve contextually built on lessons learned during previous talent crises in developing practical solutions to help providers cope with the emerging nursing crisis. Similar strategies may alleviate doctor shortages in general practice and key specialties. I will share insights from our efforts in my next post. Please contact me for more information: email@example.com