In the ever-changing world of healthcare, travel healthcare professionals are a crucial part of the workforce, tackling staff shortages and delivering top-notch patient care. But let’s be real, travel healthcare staffing has its fair share of challenges and opportunities. While big cities have been able to attract healthcare professionals, rural areas are struggling due to limited local resources. Staffing shortages are now the biggest worry for healthcare CEOs, beating out financial issues, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual survey. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the current state of the healthcare staffing industry, the financial challenges hospitals face, the growing need for healthcare professionals in rural areas, as well as the opportunities and challenges that come with it.
Money Troubles Hospitals Face
Hospitals all over the US are wrestling with financial challenges, which directly affect their ability to maintain a strong workforce. As a result, they’re exploring different options to address their staffing needs. But these challenges hit harder in rural healthcare facilities where local pools of healthcare professionals are scarce, making recruitment a time-consuming process. The unavailability of these professionals in such areas puts patient care at risk.
Impact on Patient Care
The American Hospital Association reports that workforce shortages in post-acute and behavioral health facilities are making it increasingly difficult for hospitals to discharge patients efficiently and appropriately. This means patients end up staying in inpatient beds longer than needed, resulting in higher costs for hospitals without proper reimbursement. Moreover, inpatients today are generally sicker and require more intense care than before the pandemic, which adds to hospitals’ expenses. Medicare’s fixed reimbursement for inpatient stays doesn’t consider the length of the stay, making the financial burden on hospitals even worse. Shockingly, health care consulting firm Kaufman Hall estimates that hospitals’ expenses are projected to increase by $135 billion in 2022 compared to the previous year, and nearly 68% of hospitals may end up operating at a financial loss. According to a recent article in Healthcare Dive, these financial pressures are worsened by staff and bed shortages at post-acute care and inpatient psychiatric facilities, as well as delays in insurer authorizations, leading to longer hospital stays and lower discharge rates.
Healthcare Workforce Shortage
The shortage of healthcare workers is not a new problem and actually predates the COVID-19 pandemic. According to projections from the American Hospital Association, by 2033, the US could be facing a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians, and at least 200,000 nurses will need to be hired annually to meet the increasing demand and replace retiring nurses. On top of that, there are critical shortages in allied health and behavioral health professionals, especially in rural and urban communities that historically lack sufficient healthcare resources. For instance, AHA survey data shows that between 2019 and 2020, job vacancies for various types of nursing personnel increased by up to 30%, and for respiratory therapists by 31%. These shortages are expected to persist, with an analysis of EMSI data indicating a shortage of up to 3.2 million healthcare workers by 2026. To tackle these workforce shortages, we need supportive policies. Providing enough residency slots, especially for primary care and behavioral health specialties, is crucial to meet the growing demand. Additionally, initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining nursing faculty, improving salaries for nursing educators, and enhancing clinical training opportunities are necessary to overcome the limitations faced by nursing schools.
Need for Healthcare Staffing in Rural Areas
Despite the challenges faced in the current state of the healthcare staffing industry there is a significant demand for healthcare professionals willing to work in rural areas. These regions lack local resources to quickly replace healthcare professionals when they leave, making recruitment a lengthy process. By choosing to work in rural areas, healthcare professionals can make a real difference in underserved communities and ensure access to quality care for patients who desperately need it. If you are interested in looking in to traveling to a rural area you can search our open jobs here.
Opportunities in Travel Healthcare Staffing
Flexibility and Adventure: Imagine being able to travel to different places while doing what you love. That’s what travel healthcare staffing is all about! You get to explore new locations, experience diverse cultures, and have some amazing adventures. It’s a fantastic way to grow both personally and professionally.
High Demand: Healthcare professionals are in high demand, everywhere! Nurses, doctors, and other medical experts are needed all over the United States and beyond. So, if you’re looking for job opportunities, travel healthcare staffing has got your back. You’ll always find assignments waiting for you.
Competitive Compensation: Money talks, right? Well, in travel healthcare staffing, it definitely does. On top of your regular pay, you can score some awesome perks. Think housing stipends, travel allowances, and even healthcare coverage. The financial rewards make travel healthcare staffing an attractive choice for those seeking better pay.
Professional Growth and Development: If you’re hungry for growth, travel assignments are the way to go. You’ll get exposure to various clinical settings, different patient populations, and cutting-edge medical technologies. This exposure will expand your skills, boost your knowledge, and make you super adaptable. Talk about a fast track to professional development!
Challenges in Travel Healthcare Staffing
Adaptability and Learning Curve: Each new assignment comes with its own set of challenges. You’ll need to quickly adapt to new healthcare systems, policies, and electronic record systems. It can be tough if you prefer a stable and predictable work environment. But hey, it’s all part of the adventure!
Separation from Home and Loved Ones: The downside of travel healthcare staffing is being away from home and your loved ones. It’s not easy being far from family and friends for extended periods. It can take an emotional toll, especially if you rely on a strong support system.
Licensing and Credentialing: Getting and maintaining licenses and credentials can be a bit of a hassle. Every location has its own requirements, which means paperwork and administrative work. It can be time-consuming and frustrating, but it’s a necessary step in the travel healthcare journey.
Uncertain Work Environments: Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in understaffed facilities or regions facing healthcare crises. These work environments can be demanding, and you’ll need to rise to the challenge. But remember, you’re making a difference and providing much-needed care in these tough situations.
The current state of healthcare staffing industry reflects the broader challenges faced by healthcare facilities across the United States. Financial pressures, workforce shortages, and the increasing demand for quality care require proactive measures and supportive policies. By recognizing the importance of travel healthcare professionals, especially in rural areas, we can bridge the staffing gap and ensure access to healthcare services for all communities.