New Measures Underway to Tackle Healthcare Labor Shortages

New strategies must be taken to address the shortage of healthcare professionals

If you’ve been to a hospital recently, you or a loved one has experienced firsthand the nation’s nursing shortage. The situation has become so dire that nurses have taken to the picket lines to protest what they consider to be unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios. A study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing reported that approximately 100,000 registered nurses (RNs) left the workforce during the past two years citing stress, burnout, and retirements. Additionally, the study notes that an additional 610,388 RNs reported their intent to leave the profession by 2027. Clearly, new strategies must be taken to address the shortage of not just nurses, but other healthcare professionals. This call for action has not been lost on many individuals and organizations that are launching measures to tackle healthcare’s labor problem.

On the Legislative Front

Recently, Congressman Jim Costa introduced new legislation, the National Nursing Shortage Act, to address the nation’s nursing shortage. According to Costa, “This legislation would require the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a national task force to deal with the nursing shortage.” Costa’s legislation was applauded by many in healthcare who saw it as one prong of a much-needed multi-prong approach which would attract more nurses to the field. For its part, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projected the need for another 3.6 million RNs by 2030. That’s just seven years away.

Educational Institutions Step Up

Many colleges and universities have long been aware of the difficulty many people have getting into a nursing program, whether at a community college, state university or private university. Many who try for years, finally give up. For educators this should not be the case, and some are doing their part to encourage more individuals to enter nursing. For example, Yampa Valley’s nursing programs at both Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Northwestern Community College have job programs in place through which nursing students already have secured job offers even prior to passing their national licensing exams and/or graduating. To support their entry into the field and help them afford their education and training, Colorado’s state leaders and elected officials rolled out several programs and financial options.

The Care Forward Colorado program, for instance, was funded by $26 million which are being directed to rejuvenate the state’s health care workforce with zero cost and short-term training programs at area community and technical colleges. Students can enroll in areas that enable them to become certified nursing assistants or pharmacy technicians, for example, without incurring costs for tuition, other fees, and study materials. Hospitals such as Yampa Valley are offering various programs to both retain and attract staff. It is partnering with Med Prep at Steamboat Spring High School to provide on-the-job training for certified nursing assistants. There is also a financial stipend being offered to any certified nursing assistants who want to go on to nursing school, with the caveat that they return to the hospital to serve.

Industry Solutions

Businesses are also launching innovative new programs to address healthcare’s labor shortages.

Amalgamated Medical Care Management introduced its Clinical Advantage Remote Engagement Solution (CARES) earlier this year. Through CARES, the company is helping hospitals, physician groups and other healthcare providers fill positions for nurses and other clinical staff with its flexible solution. RNs and medical assistants perform various functions remotely for healthcare providers. These include:

  • Monitoring the electronic medical record (EMR) system for incoming messages,
  • Reviewing lab results,
  • Processing medication refills,
  • Scheduling appointments,
  • Managing pending orders, and
  • Triaging patients.

CARES’ RNs perform functions including: 

  • Complete telephonic assessments,
  • Provide clinical advice based on established symptom protocols and evidence-based guidelines,
  • Offer telephonic patient education and counseling on various health topics, and
  • Refer patients to specialists and community resources when appropriate.

Our medical assistants can support you by:

  • Working within your clinic’s EMR, responding to incoming messages and processing prescription request, and
  • Completing prescreening calls for scheduled patient appointments to facilitate an efficient and patient-centered experience.

The benefits of a program such as CARES are many, ranging from convenient onboarding of remote staff, improved clinical outcomes while adhering to evidence-based guidelines, and heightened patient education, to increased health literacy, the use of advanced technologies, and lower staffing costs, while promoting higher patient satisfaction.

If the nation is to address healthcare’s labor shortages, all stakeholders must start thinking outside-of-the-box to develop and implement new strategies.