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5 Health Care Workforce Stats to Know

July 10, 2023

Pennsylvania is facing one of the most severe health care workforce crises in the nation, but we also have an important opportunity to transform care across the commonwealth.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, HAP and Pennsylvania hospitals are focused on strategies that will strengthen our workforce, support nurses and other health care professionals, and create the pipeline for the next generation.

“Despite economic and workforce disruptions, Pennsylvania’s health care sector remains a national innovator, economic driver, and quality employer for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians,”  HAP’s Roadmap for Growing Pennsylvania's Health Care Talent noted earlier this year. “Commitment and action to overcome workforce shortages will only strengthen Pennsylvania’s health and communities.”

Here are five stats to know about Pennsylvania’s health care workforce:

  1. An ongoing challenge:  The vacancy rates for registered nurses (RN) providing direct patient care increased from 20.5 percent to 30.7 percent from 2019–2022, according to a recent HAP workforce survey.
  2. Overall rank:  Pennsylvania’s workforce shortage is projected to be among the worst in the nation by 2026 for registered nurses (20,345 shortfall), mental health professionals (6,330), and nursing support staff (277,711).
  3. By county:  A recent report indicated that 63 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are either entirely or partially primary care health professional shortage areas (HPSA) and 53 are entirely or partially mental health HPSAs.
  4. Areas of need:  The HAP survey noted several top areas with critical staffing needs, including medical-surgical (73%), surgical (38%) emergency (37%), respiratory (32%), medical technologists (29%), ICU (27%), and other areas, including behavioral health, surgical services, skilled nursing, and telemetry (24%).
  5. Top barriers:  Finding qualified individuals (84%) is the top barrier to employing staff, the survey found.

Earlier this year, HAP, led by its Health Care Talent Task Force, called for the creation of a Health Care Workforce Council. The council, led by a chief health care talent officer within the governor’s office, would work collaboratively with state lawmakers and the health care community to:

  • Prioritize health care talent infrastructure by making it easier for clinicians to get licensed and credentialed and collecting data to inform policymakers about health care workforce needs.
  • Support health care workers by making health care education more affordable and accessible, promoting health careers, promoting diversity within the health care workforce, developing career pathways, offering incentives for health care professionals to work as educators and preceptors, and making health care careers more desirable.
  • Strengthen the health care community by reducing red tape, encouraging innovation, advancing telehealth, and enabling providers to focus more on patient care.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals continue to focus on innovative solutions to support the health care workforce. Learn more about HAP’s workforce priorities.