The Healthcare Talent Shortage and Holiday Coverage – How Employers Can Get Ahead

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There is a severe talent shortage in healthcare. Exacerbated by COVID-19, there has been a longstanding deficit of talent needed to fill open positions within the healthcare sector. According to data and insights gathered by Staffing Industry Analysts, it is a supply and demand imbalance only projected to get worse.

“The healthcare talent shortage is a national crisis in the U.S.,” said Staffing Industry Analysts President Barry Asin. “The shortage that was bad has only gotten substantially worse as a result of market and environmental factors, including the ‘big quit.’ In August alone, we tracked over 500,000 healthcare quits.”

Given the tight talent market in healthcare, pay rates across the sector are on the rise. Staffing Industry Analysts is projecting temporary healthcare staffing spend to crest at nearly $25 billion by the end of 2021. For context, temporary healthcare staffing spend was $9 billion in 2011.

“As much as staffing is a challenge throughout the economy, it is an extremely challenging time for healthcare organizations looking to add staff,” said Asin.

Preparing For the Holidays – And Beyond

To combat market trends, healthcare staffing solutions providers, like Medicus, are preparing for year-end demands and the 2022 calendar year by partnering with healthcare organizations to forecast hiring needs.

“There is a growing disparity between open healthcare jobs and the number of available resources that exist. This is putting pressure on healthcare organizations and their ability to find talent within a reasonable timeframe,” said Medicus Healthcare Solutions Chief Executive Officer Robert Dickey. “It is also not atypical for organizations to use locum tenens for holiday coverage and time off requests. Given the finite number of resources and the existing demand, holiday coverage this year will be especially challenging. Which means, anything an organization can do to be more planned and to predict their needs as a way to future fill their schedules will be important.”

Because of the demand, most locum tenens working through organizations like Medicus are ‘out-booking’ assignments, meaning they have additional assignments lined up based off of pre-scheduled end dates. If a healthcare organization is considering extending an assignment, it is equally as important to communicate those extension plans early in order to avoid a locum tenens resource pre-booking another assignment.

“Healthcare organizations do not want to be in a constant cycle of needing to procure locums labor on an ad hoc basis, most especially in this market. Assessing current locums working onsite and reassigning those same resources as opposed to finding new people is better for everyone. Not only will these resources already be credentialed to work for the organization, but they will also already be familiar with the facility and have gone through onboarding and training. Not to mention, there is less of a risk of scheduling gaps when there is continuity of assignments,” said Dickey.

In addition to burnout, turnover and early retirement plaguing the already tight healthcare talent market, healthcare organizations are also grappling with changes to their service models, including the increase in telehealth services and the general need for better and more technology.

“From a candidate onboarding perspective, it is paramount that healthcare organizations reduce friction points when a provider decides to join them, whether full-time or as a locum tenens. From a consumer perspective, telehealth and other digital services are still maturing in healthcare. Providers want to work for organizations that are streamlining, optimizing and improving patient care and their ability to make it easier for them to provide that care. To remain competitive today as an employer is to also remain competitive today as a provider of healthcare services,” said Medicus Chief Information Officer Thomas McLain.

In some cases, however, onboarding fluency is less about technology and more about process. In today’s competitive talent market, some healthcare organizations are waiving requirements to allow providers to start sooner. Depending on what is required, credentialing can be completed in as soon as 24 hours or take as long as 120 days; the average time it takes to credential a provider is 8-12 weeks.

Medicus’s proprietary database includes providers with active facility privileges. If timing is of the essence, as is often the case at the end of the year, going with a resource that is already credentialed can quicken the onboarding process.

If you are in need of holiday coverage, or if you are planning ahead for your 2022 staffing needs, please get in touch with us.

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