Healthcare HR Week: The Most Critical Issue Facing the Healthcare Industry Today

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National Healthcare HR Week has fueled a lot of conversation about the state of the healthcare workforce. And for providers, there's ample concern. As hospital talent executive Greg Till wrote on Modern Healthcare, "The most critical issue facing our industry is attracting and retaining the best talent."

Recruitment and retention may be challenging all industries in the current talent market. But healthcare executives have reason to be especially worried. Why?

The field is growing

Healthcare is growing faster than any other field, adding nearly 50,000 jobs in December 2016 alone. Last year, wrote Shelby Livingston on Modern Healthcare, the field grew by nearly 35,000 jobs every month.

The number of employees is shrinking

Boomers are retiring at the very moment jobs are multiplying, widening the gap between the number of open jobs and the number of available hires. In the next decade, estimates put doctor shortages as high as nearly 100,000, and nurse shortages at nearly 1,000,000.

Employee demographics are changing

Women currently make up about 35% of all doctors, but that's about to change. Growing numbers of women entering medicine (just under half of today's residents) will mean more people with children, more conflicts between family responsibilities and stressful jobs, and changed approach to medical careers and families.

Turnover is on the rise, and increasingly costly

Those work/family conflicts are already leaving a mark, with women scaling back medical careers almost immediately after starting them. It's a costly loss, with a single doctor adding up to thousands ($4000+ per doctor per day) to replace.

Competition for employees will be fierce

The buyer's market will put employees in the driver's seat. And top healthcare employers are already leaving competitors behind, appealing to hires with benefits that help people manage both the demands of the job and the conflicts it causes with personal lives.


Retention and recruitment may be the driving forces, but the above represent more than just talent issues; they're quality-of-service issues as well. Supported employees are engaged employees, and that engagement amounts to gains in every aspect of healthcare's so-called Triple Aim: better patient experiences, better outcomes, and lower costs. So a well-executed talent program that takes on retention and recruitment trickles down to the health of the entire organization.

As Mr. Till put it, the solution to better care is relatively simple, he wrote. "Improve your caregivers' experience."  
Male medical professional in a healthcare setting

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Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.