Health­care staffing growth will re­main healthy

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

Re­gard­ing the ar­ti­cle “Why health hir­ing is slow­ing as health spend­ing is grow­ing” (Mod­ern­Health­, March 17), it should be noted that health­care hir­ing con­tin­ues to be very healthy, grow­ing by ap­prox­i­mately 60,000 jobs over the first three months of this year. And that growth oc­curred even though Congress was de­bat­ing the fu­ture of health­care pol­icy.

Pos­si­bly an even more im­por­tant statis­tic came out ear­lier this year from the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics, show­ing that there were ap­prox­i­mately 1 mil­lion health­care job open­ings in De­cem­ber 2016 and only about half that num­ber of hires for that month. So even if the pace of health­care hir­ing growth cools slightly, there still re­mains a huge num­ber of un­filled jobs in the in­dus­try. We are cer­tainly see­ing this phe­nom­e­non on the front­lines of health­care staffing.

The fact is that health­care poli­cies are not the prin­ci­pal driv­ers of the ris­ing de­mand for health­care. Per­haps the big­gest driver is the ag­ing of our pop­u­la­tion: Peo­ple 65 and older ex­pe­ri­ence three times as many hospi­tal days as the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, and those 75 and older ex­pe­ri­ence four times as many. The num­ber of peo­ple 65 and older will rise from 40 mil­lion in 2010 to 72 mil­lion in 2030 and nearly 90 mil­lion by 2050. Other driv­ers of de­mand for health­care in­clude the im­prov­ing econ­omy.

Mean­while, the still su­per-hot de­mand for health­care pro­fes­sion­als is fu­eled by those fac­tors plus the grow­ing short­ages of physi­cians, nurses, al­lied pro­fes­sion­als, ex­ec­u­tives and even sup­port per­son­nel such as med­i­cal coders.

The health­care in­dus­try and health­care staffing con­tinue to be ro­bust, and we don’t see that chang­ing for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Su­san Salka Pres­i­dent and CEO AMN Health­care San Diego

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