Healthcare workforce makes slow comeback while filling some vacancies proves challenging, study finds

Posted at 6:58 AM, Apr 21, 2022

KENT, Ohio — While our nation’s health care system has started to rebound since COVID first caused panic, the demand for long-time health care workers is still critical.

A recent studyshows full-time health aides, assistants, historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups and those with young children are those needed most to meet demands. The study compared turnover rates among this group from 2019 to 2021. Of the more than 100,000 workers surveyed, the majority of them quit or were let go and it happened at a rate higher than many other positions and demographic.

“Anecdotally, I think that this is going to turn around once they once they gain some momentum and figure all this out,” said Versie Johnson-Mallard, Nursing Dean at Kent State University (KSU).

Researchers note they were not able to specifically identify the reasons behind the high turnover rates. However, target solutions like better pay and work-life balance are needed to truly meet patient and workforce demands.

According to Johnson-Mallard, the demand for these positions continues to impact student nurses. She says because of the early COVID mandate, many undergrad students missed essential learning and experience focusing on communication and bedside manner.

“It's like you've been a news reporter and you go through all the courses, but you never had the opportunity to interview a person,” she explained.

In addition, when it comes to graduate nursing students, we’re told enrollment at KSU has dropped about 40%.

“These nurses are still working at the bedside and they're having to prioritize they're prioritizing in their family and then work-life over graduate school,” Johnson-Mallard said.

Johnson-Mallard says the school’s partners have started offering residencies and internships to help boost skills and confidence.