Workforce Shortage in Health Care

WorkforceShortage in Health Care

WorkforceShortage in Healthcare

TheHealthcare workforce forms the largest section of the professionalfield in most countries. This phenomenon can be attributed to thecommitment of these states to improve the health of their citizens.However, several significant challenges prevent the achievement ofthis goal. Similarly, some of the nations have not allocatedsufficient resources, planning, and policies to attain the highestlevels of success. For the health system to function efficiently,skilled health care workers must be available in the appropriateproportion. The lack of adequate trained and employed health workerscan lead to poor health both locally and globally. This paper looksat the causes of shortage, the solutions and interest groups thatwork towards alleviating the problem.

Reasonsfor the Shortage

Thereasons underlying the lack of healthcare workers ismultidimensional. The complex nature of the occurrence is a clearreflection of the changing demographics, employment patterns, therunning of the system and the workplace. One of the highly recognizedgroups of health care practitioners are the nurses. Based on thecurrent trends, there is a suggestion that there is an increased needfor more healthcare workers as people continue to age and diseaseskeep on emerging, re-emerging, risk of developing non-communicablediseases such as cancer and diabetes and becoming more resistant tomedication [ CITATION Wor13 l 1033 ].The healthcare profession is made up of different types of workersincluding doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists,surgeons and other specialists. These people take part in the routinecare activities, testing, diagnosis, treatment and research as wellas patient care and support. Their role in the well-being of thepopulation cannot be underestimated. Allthese factors are potential challenges both in the employment andretention of such workers. The most significant reasons are outlinedbelow.

PopulationAging leading to increased demand

Therehas been sufficient data to indicate the context of age demographicsand the need for health care services. In most cases, the populationcomposed of people aged above 65 years old require new healthcare.Likewise, the population continues growing at rates that approach 18%in general. This data is a clear indication that the number of theelderly is also increasing considerably. As the people approach suchold age, the probability of developing diseases and complicationsalso increase. This is attributed to the low immune status and theoverall body weakness. As this vulnerable age group continues torise, so does the need to recruit more healthcare workers to takecare of them. Additionally, these people also require more servicescompared to the younger individuals. This means that the tasks aremuch more complex and intensive. The scenario calls for moreprofessionals fully equipped with the appropriate skills [ CITATION Reb16 l 1033 ].Acquiring scores of a highly qualified task force is quite difficult.

Availabilityof other Career Choices

Significantchanges have taken place concerning social and employment patterns.Both women and men born in the contemporary society are exposed to awide variety of career options than the previous generations.Apparently, the number of individuals and especially women who opt tojoin the field of nursing has significantly reduced. However, otherareas such as engineering, business, social and community developmentamong others have seen an influx. Several reasons fuel this change,but the most important one is related to wages. The healthcareworkload is quite high especially in the hospital setting where thestaff is required to work overtime, night shifts and also weekends.At times, the load increases to higher levels during instances ofemergency patient admissions in large numbers. Despite all theseresponsibilities, the workers have not benefitted a lot regardingwage compensation. The pay remained relatively constant for quitesome time. Such events prompted some people to reconsider joining theprofession while others contemplated moving out of the same possiblydue to cases of dissatisfaction (O`Brien &amp Gostin, 2011).

Reactionsto Health Care Cost Burden.

Sincethe establishment of managed care, the cost of such a practicerequired a lot of resources. This need for financial input created alot of pressure, especially on the available healthcare facilities.This caused slow employment rates and lower wages to run the managedcare program. As time progressed, the managed care plan became morewidespread, prompting the reduction of job growth with the ultimateaim of reducing the government spending. On top of that, the numberof hospital stays was reduced hence healthcare workers had to takepart in a more intensive work. As such, due to the high demandsrelated to healthcare provision, some institutions, governments andrepublics opt to reduce the employment rates while allocating moreresponsibilities to the few available personnel hence leading toshortages in times of need (O`Brien &amp Gostin, 2011).

Solutionsto the Shortage

Thebest way of dealing with such critical issues is to develop bothshort and long-term strategies. Various studies have provided thevarious recommendations to uplift this poor situation.


Thecontemporary reports indicate that fewer individuals are joining thenursing field. Workforce shortages are not easy to estimate and sincethe past, several short-term resolutions such as an increase inremuneration were applied. There is a cyclical aspect regardingworker shortage characterized by an increased likelihood ofhealthcare professionals working when the economy is underperforming.

Themost immediate action that would facilitate an increase in theworkforce is to dedicate more resources towards the remuneration ofhealthcare staff. It is a substantial move since it can play the roleof retention as well as encouraging applications and recruitment.Another approach involves the reorganization of the overallhealthcare system in a way that will facilitate the reduction ofpaperwork and other responsibilities hence increasing the time thatwould be spent on service provision to patients. The leadership rolesalso need to be redefined and adhered to. While there is equipmentthat protects staff from injuries, it is also important to considerthe improvement of such devices. This can then be accompanied by theredesigning of the workplace and the adherence to stipulatedergonomic standards (O`Brien &amp Gostin, 2011). Assuring themembers of staff of a safe working environment is a step towards jobsatisfaction. Furthermore, designing overtime policies as soon aspossible can facilitate retention, and more individuals would bedrawn towards the profession.


Strategiesthat will continue working further into the future are vital for theestablishment of a sustainable healthcare workforce. The answer herelies in the early preparation methods for recruiting prospectiveemployees. Experts recommend the increase in funding forhealth-oriented educational courses, subsidized training, andscholarships as well as student loans can increase the number ofpotential workers. To strengthen the quality of service andfacilitate retention, additional training in gerontology, informationtechnology, and systems as well as further training at all careerlevels is an essential step towards increasing the workforce. In someareas, the number of minorities in the society practicing healthcaredelivery is limited. By increasing the participation of such groupsin culturally sensitive areas, the underrepresented groups will beencouraged to join the noble cause in multitudes. It is the view ofother researchers that the hiring of providers from foreign nationswould be a positive way of addressing shortages. However, this movecan be controversial especially with the questions raised regardingquality, wages and training level (O`Brien &amp Gostin, 2011).

Asmentioned before, the healthcare sector has been tainted by themisdeeds and lack of a friendly environment. Experts have suggestedthat improving this cynical notion will pave the way for the increasein staff. The appropriate strategies range from encouraging employeesto air their positive views to the media, launching professionaladvertisements and taking part in campaigns that promote the nobleprofession. Retention is an aspect of maintaining the healthcareworkforce that cannot be ignored. There is dire need to developpolicies to improve the facilities’ work environment. Similarly,the hospitals that conform to regulations are singled out andassisted in the allocation, recruitment and retention of employees.Such a move supports a high provider-to-patient ratio and leads tolow turnovers among the healthcare staff [ CITATION Amy14 l 1033 ].Furthermore, having these guidelines is vital for the promotion ofautonomy, encouraging leadership and improving responsibilities.

Oneof the main reasons as to why healthcare provider have left theprofession is due to the high workloads they are subjected to. Thisoccurrence prompts the promotion of regulations that not only reducethe assignments but also increase the staffing in a legislativemanner. An example of such a strategy is to increase the provider topatient ratio, incorporating the use of technology that makes workeasier for staff and collaboration between and within hospitals.

SpecialInterest Groups that help in Problem-Solving

Whilethe government and other state agencies are the primary players inseeking the answers to redeem the falling workforce, privateorganizations also have a significant role to play. The JointCommission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is anexample of such a non-governmental group. The organization isresponsible for the Accreditation of hospitals and othercare-providing institutions. It monitors available data and assessesthe efficiency of staffing. Based on the fact that such anorganization is equipped with sufficient information and relevantrequirements, the same can be applied to identify the areas ofstaffing that are wanting and after that coming up with policies thatalleviate such issues entirely (O`Brien &amp Gostin, 2011).Moreover, guidelines for other events such as outreaches,scholarships, caring programs and health support programs can begenerated.


Althoughthere is a current shortage of healthcare staff, evidence purportsthat it would be expensive to increase staffing. However, recentevidence has established that the higher the number of providers, thebetter the health outcomes of patients with the disease. If thecurrent situation is not solved, the future will hold an even greatercost and create a challenge concerning the quality. Neglecting toincrease the pay in both public and private facilities will mostlikely lead to tradeoffs between putting more effort in staffincrement and pursuing other efforts that yield more outcomes.Stringent measures and strict decisions have to be made to ensurethat the situation does not get even worse in the future.


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