Survey Finds High Vacancy Rates for Health Care Professionals
HAP issues policy recommendations for growing, supporting the health care workforce
January 23, 2023
Harrisburg, PA (January 23, 2023) – More than 3 in 10 positions for some of the key professionals who make up patient care teams in Pennsylvania hospitals were vacant at the end of last year, a report released today by The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) found.
HAP’s survey of Pennsylvania hospitals found statewide vacancy rates of more than 30 percent for registered nurses, nursing support staff, medical assistants, respiratory therapists, and nurse practitioners. Across most positions, vacancy rates increased significantly compared to 2019, jumping as much as 50 percent and 64 percent respectively for nurses and respiratory therapists and more than doubling for medical technologists/lab technicians.
The results underscore hospitals’ continued struggles hiring and retaining crucial staff amid a nationwide health care staffing crisis. To address these challenges, HAP released today comprehensive policy recommendations to support and grow the health care workforce.
“Pennsylvania hospitals cannot meet a growing need for care without a robust health care workforce,” HAP President and CEO Andy Carter said. “Government leaders, educators, and the health care community must work together to support, attract, educate, and train the health care professionals needed to care for Pennsylvanians now and into the future.”
HAP’s recommendations—developed by a task force of health care professionals, clinical and administrative leaders from hospitals and health systems, and health care educators—identify ways that Governor Josh Shapiro’s administration, the General Assembly, and Pennsylvania’s health care community can collaborate to prioritize health care workforce development.
HAP is calling for a Health Care Workforce Council, led by a chief health care talent officer, to be established within the governor’s office to lead initiatives that:
- 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 conducted its survey of workforce needs during November 2022 and received responses from 70 hospitals, a sample that’s representative of the statewide hospital community.
In addition to reporting vacancy and turnover rates, respondents identified pay raises and flexible work schedules as their most successful strategies for retaining and recruiting staff. Meanwhile, they cited challenges finding qualified job candidates and financial constraints that limit hospitals’ competitiveness on wages and benefits as the top barriers.
Detailed survey results and HAP’s full policy recommendations are available online.