America’s hospitals confront serious workforce challenges

AHA News
Hospitals had an estimated 116,000 registered nurse vacancies as of last December, according to “The 2007 State of America's Hospitals-Taking the Pulse,” an AHA survey of hospital leaders that was released last month.      Hospitals cite a litany of issues that contribute to a nationwide nursing shortage:  the demanding nature of nursing, a lack of nurse educators - and facilities - to teach qualified applicants, an aging nurse population, and inadequate funding at the state and federal levels to support nurse education. At the same time, growing numbers of older Americans and an increase in chronic illnesses contribute to more people needing nursing services.
To help address serious nursing shortages, many hospitals look overseas to hire highly qualified registered nurses (RN). The AHA has called for changes in the U.S. visa policy to help ensure that hospitals can recruit RNs and other health care professionals from overseas. As part of that effort, the AHA and other organizations recently urged Congress to undertake visa reform legislation this year to help address dire shortages of highly skilled workers, including health care professionals.
“The inability of our members to bring highly educated workers into the United States, and retain them permanently when needed, severely hurts their ability to compete in the global market," the groups said in Aug. 2 letters to House and Senate members. "It is imperative that reforms to the H-1B visa program and the [employment-based] green card system occur this year, allowing American businesses to remain competitive.”
In addition to the AHA, the letters were signed by the Business Roundtable, Financial Services Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, Society for Human Resource Management and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The AHA survey of hospital leaders found that workforce shortages are affecting patient care. These charts are included in the survey, which is at the “Research and Trends” section of >

Hospitals face workforce shortages in key care-giving professions...

Vacancy Rates for Selected Hospital Personnel, December 2006

Therapists (ST, OT, PT)*11.4%
Registered nurses8.1%
Nursing Assistants8.0%
Laboratory Technicians5.9%
Imaging Technicians5.9%
RN Vacancies116,000*

Source: 2007 AHA Survey of Hospital Leaders


Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy

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