Report highlights need to retain and recruit healthcare workers – Alexandria Echo Press
Findings from a Minnesota Department of Health survey confirm health care worker burnout and show that labor shortage trends are affecting a wide range of health care professionals.
The report, Minnesota’s Health Care Workforce: Pandemic-Provoked Workforce Exits, Burnout, and Shortages, is the first report of its kind covering the effects of the pandemic on most licensed health care workers in Minnesota. It is based on the MDH Health Workforce Survey, which is administered at the time of license renewal for “front-line” providers, including physician assistants, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nurses, physicians , mental health care providers and others.
Survey data points to alarming labor losses in small towns and rural areas of Minnesota. Nearly 1 in 5 rural health care providers say they plan to leave their profession in the next five years. The largest projected losses are for physicians. One in three rural doctors say they intend to leave their profession in the next five years.
“We’re going to need multiple approaches and solutions aimed at both recruiting the future workforce and retaining the current workforce,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. Press release. “We in government and healthcare need to do more to prioritize retention, work with educational institutions to expand clinical training opportunities and focus more broadly on the care team, including nurses, doctors, physician assistants, respiratory therapists and others.”
Suppliers are seeing labor shortages across Minnesota. The report found that job vacancies have increased in almost all health professions from their pre-pandemic levels, in some cases dramatically. The largest increases are in mental health and addictions counseling occupations, where 1 in 4 jobs are currently vacant and open for hire.
In almost every occupation, more claimants than in previous years said they planned to leave their occupation in the next five years, and a much higher share of those exits were due to burnout.
Although nurse burnout is widely recognized, other providers are also struggling. Burnout or job dissatisfaction accounted for 26% of all physician assistant departures and 22% of respiratory therapy departures.
The report identifies potential solutions, including retention of the existing workforce through programs such as loan relief for healthcare providers, career exploration initiatives for new workers and displaced workers and programs to increase workforce diversity. Employers can also work to overcome the hiring challenge by making healthcare jobs safe, flexible, well-paying, and family-friendly.
Current legislative proposals aim to revitalize our healthcare workforce. They include launching rural clinical training tracks to create a pipeline of trained primary care physicians and psychiatrists in greater Minnesota; funding to expand rural rotations and clinical training opportunities for pre-licensing nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health students and dental graduates; and financial support for mental health care providers to pay for the supervised training they must complete before becoming licensed. These efforts are designed to develop an ongoing network of health professionals in areas of high need to ensure the health and economic vitality of rural areas.
The Walz-Flanagan budget to move Minnesota forward also includes the following proposals:
Revitalizing our healthcare workforce — The pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in our healthcare workforce. Investing in this much-needed career field is vital to the future health of our state. The governor’s and lieutenant governor’s budget provides critical investments in the healthcare workforce, building on recent programs such as Free Certified Nursing Education and Minnesota’s Future Together Grant, both of which offer pathways tuition-free to students in the most needy career fields.
Recognize Frontline Workers – The Walz-Flanagan Budget to Move Minnesota Forward recommends $1 billion to provide payouts to frontline workers who have sacrificed during the pandemic to ensure safety, health, food and services care of Minnesotans. This proposal would provide payments of $1,500 to approximately 667,000 workers, including health care, child care, school, grocery, restaurant, transportation, personal care workers. long-term, building services, public safety, retail and manufacturing. These payments to frontline workers recognize the essential work of Minnesotans who have risked their health and continue to provide the vital services needed to keep our state running during this pandemic.
Supporting Minnesota’s Care Workforce – Walz has offered more than $250 million to address the labor shortage, including an incentive program that would provide retention and bonus payments to workers joining and remain in caring professions, including those providing care for people with disabilities, the elderly, people with behavioral health needs, and people experiencing homelessness. Critical labor shortages in these industries have worsened during the pandemic and pose a threat to the health, independence and stability of Minnesotans who depend on them.
The report is available at www.health.state.mn.us/data/workforce/reports.html.