How to Prepare for the Upcoming Healthcare Talent Shortage

As the Baby Boom generation enters retirement age, recruiters will have a lot of vacancies to fill. This is particularly poignant in the healthcare industry, where the retiring Boomers will also require increased medical care as they age, vastly expanding the demand for healthcare services.

Talent acquisition is already facing the squeeze of the talent shortage in staffing doctors, nurses, specialists and even support staff.  That’s because the healthcare industry is presently the fastest growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of registered nurses will increase by 15% by the year 2026—much faster than average. If we look at the numbers for nursing staff alone, it is clear the issue is twofold. According to Health Affairs, nurses in the Baby Boomer cohort made up two-thirds of registered nurses in 1990.

By 2020, the number of nurses in the Boomer cohort will be half of what they were at their peak (in 2008), as nearly 70,000 nurses retire each year. The bright side is that the Millennial generation has just surpassed the Boomers in sheer numbers and is presently entering the workforce, set to fill the gap of retirees. But will it be enough?

How to Combat the Looming Healthcare Talent Gap

Assess and teach vital skills

One issue for talent acquisition teams, besides the sheer numbers stacked against them, will be to address the skills gap and the experience gap of this new Millennial cohort. As Boomer nurses retire, they take with them a vast collective knowledge acquired through years of experience. As new graduates from nursing schools fill these vacant positions, organizations will have to keep tabs on their overall performance metrics as they work to get a younger, less skilled and less experienced nursing staff up to speed.  HR teams will have to bolster their orientation processes, streamline onboarding for new hires, and bolster employee engagement efforts to ensure that new staff will be retained, engaged, and ready.

Offer competitive relocation packages

Another issue in the broader landscape of talent acquisition in the healthcare industry is location. According to the AAMC, there will be a shortage of 100,000 doctors by the year 2030. The doctor shortage and a specialist shortage will result in a gap of services, particularly affecting those who live outside large population centers. People seeking psychiatric care or an OB-GYN in certain locations may need to travel farther to find their nearest specialist. This may mean that talent acquisition needs to establish enticements for doctors to move to certain areas, like covering moving fees or developing other incentives to encourage transfers.

Target new hires strategically

But perhaps most importantly for talent acquisition teams to gear up for this talent shortage in healthcare will be to develop a robust recruitment strategy that targets Millennials where and how they search for jobs. Because Millennials engage social media more than past generations, targeted social media ads using ad tech may be increasingly important in job ad campaigns for healthcare staffing positions. Similarly, ensuring job applications are easy to fill out across various devices including tablets, smartphones, and computers will help increase access for this new tech-savvy generation of hires.

Automate whenever possible

Lastly, the most important transition for talent acquisition in healthcare will be a movement towards automation. Already popular when it comes to high-volume hiring, the growing healthcare industry should embrace the efficiencies produced by AI-assisted software to process more applications, screen and score more applicants using smart data, as well as employ predictive models to ensure that the next hire is not hired hastily as a stop gap measure, but is truly the best fit for any open position.

With a sophisticated data collection program, talent acquisition can find the best suited talent more quickly and efficiently—which will be vital as the career landscape changes.

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