In the next 10 years, the nation’s biggest healthcare crisis may not be the uninsured or the cost of care, but a serious shortage of specialists, generalist physicians, nurses and other clinicians that will hamper the ability of hospitals to deliver high-quality care.
This looming talent shortage is top of mind for more than 90 percent of U.S. hospital executives, according to a new survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by Prudential Retirement. Furthermore, 70 percent acknowledge their organizations need to pay more attention to attracting and retaining talent.
The survey findings, summarized in Beyond The Tipping Point: Hospital Resilience Revisited, paint a portrait of a sector that faces rising uncertainty as a result of mounting healthcare costs, an obscure legislative agenda and evolving business models. Based on the opinions of more than 300 executives at rural, urban and suburban hospitals of all sizes across the nation, the Prudential survey is the second in an annual series examining trends and challenges impacting the U.S. hospital sector.
"The findings of our 2017 survey underscore how critical winning the war on talent is for America’s hospitals,” says Scott Boyd, Senior Vice President, Head of Tax-Exempt Markets at Prudential Retirement. “Given the staffing shortages hospitals are facing because of an aging workforce and the increasing competition for talent in any given geographic region, it’s imperative that hospital decision makers rethink their approach to talent management to attract and retain the best medical professionals for their organizations.”
Two-thirds of executives at hospitals with more than 1,000 employees revealed they are either already facing a nursing shortage or expect one within three years. This is particularly important as nurses are the largest group of clinician employees. Executives at hospitals of all sizes are having the most difficulty attracting specialist nurses (48 percent), specialist doctors (44 percent) and generalist physicians (41 percent).
The American Medical Association estimates the U.S. will be short between 60,000 and almost 95,000 physicians by 2025—a deficit that will likely impact rural and low-income communities the most.
To help lessen the impact of the physician shortage, lawmakers in Washington recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would extend and expand a program allowing more foreign medical students on J-1 visas to stay in the United States if they practice in a community in need for three years.
There are also opportunities for hospitals to help alleviate their talent shortage through recruitment incentives. “Looking beyond traditional recruitment vehicles like compensation to other instruments like retirement plans and student loan repayment options are becoming increasingly common,” Boyd said. “These would be especially attractive to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists who typically graduate with sizable student loan debt.”
To learn more about the concerns of U.S. hospital executives, visit healthcare.prudentialretirement.com. To talk to Scott Boyd, contact Monique Freeman.