Category Archives: Workforce supply and demand
The health care sector has created 166,800 new jobs so far this year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—but that’s down from the 266,400 new jobs created in the first nine months of 2012. The sector created 6,800 jobs this September, compared with 36,600 in September of last year.
Experts note that these numbers have yet to reflect any slowing demand for physicians and other clinicians.
With health reform taking effect, consolidations and other changes in the health care industry, “what you are seeing is simple action-reaction,” Travis Singleton, senior vice president at the health care staffing firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates, told Health Leaders Media. “[A]nytime you have mass change to an industry you are going to get a reaction.” Singleton says that Merritt Hawkins saw a 14 percent increase in its physician and advanced practice recruiting assignments from 2012 to 2013, and he expects recruitment and hiring to continue to increase, especially in nursing.
Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, is senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist at the Center to Champion Nursing in America, which coordinates the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Here, Reinhard reflects on the impact of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report during its third anniversary week.
The Center to Champion Nursing in America was founded six years ago as an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Ever since, we have devoted considerable energies and resources to transforming the nursing profession to better serve consumers.
Why is AARP so invested in this work? One simple reason: Nurses, the largest segment of the health care workforce, provide critical care to our members, many of whom are aging and managing multiple chronic health conditions. Our work is not as much about improving conditions for nurses as it is about making life better for consumers and their families. A larger, more highly skilled nursing workforce will improve access to higher-quality, more patient-centered, and more affordable care. That is especially important now, with demand for nursing care growing as the population ages and as millions more people enter the health care system under the Affordable Care Act.
That is why we, at AARP, have made it our mission to ensure that all people have access to a highly skilled nurse when and where they need one.
Italo M. Brown, MPH, is a third year medical student at Meharry Medical College. He holds a BS from Morehouse College, and an MPH in epidemiology and social and behavioral sciences from Boston University, School of Public Health. He is a Health Policy Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College.
In an ad-hoc poll among classmates, I recently inquired about the most important date (in 2013) to a second year medical student. The overwhelming majority of respondents cited their respective STEP 1 exam dates as most important, followed closely by the season finales of ABC’s Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. While the top three responses are noteworthy, the one date that should bear the most gravity in the minds of medical students across cohorts is October 1st.
This October marks the launch of open enrollment for health insurance exchanges, a much-anticipated provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA seeks to reduce the number of nonelderly uninsured Americans by half; in other words, a projected 20 million new patients will enter the health care system over the next 18 months.
Ying Xue, DNSc, RN, is an associate professor at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.
For the past two decades, supplemental nurses have been about 4 percent of the nursing workforce. These are nurses hired from staffing agencies to temporarily fill vacant nursing positions. The business of supplemental nurse staffing began in the 1970s as a symptom and a response to the nursing shortage. A central concern over the decades has been whether quality of patient care provided by supplemental nurses is the same as that provided by permanent nurses.
On the one hand, some argue that the temporary nature of the position (which varies from per-diem to a few months) might have an adverse effect on patient outcomes due to supplemental nurses’ lack of familiarity with unit policies and health care providers, and disruption in continuity of care. Others contend that supplemental nurses might have a positive effect on patient outcomes because they alleviate deficiencies in nurse staffing.
What’s the answer to this decades’ old question? Surprisingly, relatively little research has been conducted to provide a definitive answer, but several recent studies not only are shedding light on the issue, but helping to reframe the question by challenging some old myths.
Monique Trice, 24, is a University of Louisville School of Dentistry student who will complete her studies in 2015. Trice completed the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) in 2008 at the University of Louisville site. Started in 1988, SMDEP (formerly known as the Minority Medical Education Program and Summer Medical and Education Program), is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation–sponsored program with more than 21,000 alumni. Today, SMDEP sponsors 12 sites, with each accepting up to 80 students per summer session. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.
Diversity is more than ethnicity. It also includes geography, perspective, and more. I was raised in Enterprise, Ala., which is in Coffee County. The community’s demographic and geographic makeup set the stage for an oral health care crisis. Here’s how:
- Enterprise is a community of 27,000 and just 15 licensed general dentists, three Medicaid dental providers, and zero licensed pediatric dentists to service Coffee County, a population of 51,000. In 2011, Alabama’s Office of Primary Care and Rural Health reported that 65 of the state’s 67 counties were designated as dental health shortage areas for low-income populations.
- According to this data, more than 260 additional dentists would be needed to bridge gaps and fully meet the need. For some residents, time, resources, and distance figure into the equation, putting dental care out of reach. In some rural communities, an hour’s drive is required to access dental services.
- Lack of affordable public transportation creates often-insurmountable barriers to accessing dental care.
Growing up in a single-parent household, my siblings and I experienced gaps in dental care. Fortunately, we never suffered from an untreated cavity from poor oral health care, but many low-income, underserved children and adults are not so lucky.
A report released Monday by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) indicate that efforts to grow and diversify the nursing workforce are showing results—a welcome finding given the looming shortage of nurses and primary care providers in general.
According to the data from HRSA's National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, the nursing profession grew substantially in the 2000s, adding 24 percent more registered nurses (RNs) and 15.5 percent more licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Significantly, the growth in the supply of nurses outpaced growth in the U.S. population, with the number of RNs per capita growing by about 14 percent and the number of LPNs per capita increasing by 6 percent.
The "pipeline" carrying nurses from school to the workforce also expanded during the past decade. The number of would-be nurses who passed national nurse licensing exams to become RNs more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, while the number of LPN test-passers grew by 80 percent. Significantly, the share of licensure candidates with bachelor's degrees increased during that time, as well.
The profession also is growing more diverse, according to the data. Non-white RNs are now 25 percent of the profession, up from 20 percent 10 years ago. Nine percent of RNs are men today, up slightly from 8 percent at the beginning of the decade.
Health care employment accounted for 10.74 percent of total employment in the United States in March, according to a report by the Altarum Institute. One out of every nine jobs was in the health care sector—an all-time high, the report says.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) March 2013 employment data show that health care employment rose by 23,000 jobs in March, and most were in ambulatory care. Health care has added 1.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, the report says, while non-health employment has fallen.
The Altarum Institute is a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization.
More U.S. medical students “matched” to primary care residency positions this year than in 2012, according to data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Almost 400 more students chose primary care fields— internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics—than last year. NRMP is a private, non-profit organization established in 1952 to provide a mechanism for matching the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors.
Of the 17, 487 graduating seniors who participated in Match Day 2013, 3,135 matched to internal medicine—a 6.6 percent increase from last year. The number of seniors who matched to pediatrics (1,837) represents a 105 percent increase over last year.
This year’s Main Residency Match was the largest in NRMP history, with more than 40,000 student and independent registrants. NRMP attributes the increase to three new medical schools graduating their first classes, and expanded enrollment in existing medical schools.
Conducted annually by the NRMP, The Match uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to align the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency program directors in order to fill the training positions available at U.S. teaching hospitals.
This is part of the March 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.
Study: APRN-Staffed Clinic Produces Shorter Wait for Diagnoses at Lower Cost for Women with Benign Breast Conditions
A nurse-based approach to diagnosing women with breast conditions is saving money and producing shorter wait times for diagnoses, according to an article in the January issue of Health Affairs.
In 2008, the Virginia Mason Medical Center, a Seattle-based multidisciplinary health care network that logs 800,000 outpatient and 17,000 hospital visits per year, opened a new breast care clinic, with the goal of streamlining the diagnosis and care for women with breast conditions. These include such benign conditions as cysts and fibrocystic breast disease, as well as breast cancer. As part of the clinic’s model, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) take the lead role in diagnosing patients, working with on-site equipment to perform mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging. Patients whose conditions cannot promptly be confirmed as benign meet with breast surgeons for diagnosis and care, if appropriate.
A report completed this month by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which conducts analysis for members and committees of Congress, examines how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect the nation’s supply of physicians. In particular, the report focuses on the workforce’s size, composition and geographic distribution.
The health care system cannot work effectively or efficiently without a physician workforce of appropriate size. Too few physicians means delayed care, and too many physicians can mean unnecessary or duplicate care. But measuring the size of the physician workforce—and the future physician population—is challenging, and estimates vary. The CRS report notes that “predicting the timing, content, and effect of policy change is difficult, which adds to the uncertainty of the projections.”
The ACA authorizes funding for additional medical residency training programs through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the ACA’s own Prevention and Public Health Fund. It requires that Medicare-funded residency training slots be redistributed from hospitals that are not using them or that have closed, to hospitals seeking to train additional residents. It also includes provisions designed to increase physician productivity and the volume of physician services available. The law encourages care coordination—in medical homes and accountable care organizations, for example—and expands the non-physician workforce that can augment or substitute for physician services.