BusinessMedical Education

The Shortage of Healthcare Workers and Deliverers

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First posted on The Fickenscher Files on 7/16/2012

First posted on The Fickenscher Files on 7/16/2012

In some respects, the bigger problem in healthcare is not the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Rather, the real concern in the industry is that we need to create an additional 5.6 million new jobs by 2020 to meet the growing demand for care, which is causing real concern among those who will be delivering the care.  That’s the conclusion of a new study.

from the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce.  Even more daunting is the fact that 82 percent – or, about 4.6 million of the positions – will require post-secondary education and training.  If we include all of the “behind-the-scenes” workers such as hospital accountants, information specialists, administrative assistants, and the like, the overall healthcare employment will increase from 15.6 million in 2010 to about 19.8 million jobs in 2020.  This will account for just over 13 percent of all U.S. jobs.

As I’ve noted before, we have a bit of a Catch-22 going on.  Healthcare is consuming more resources, but in the current recession, it is also contributing more to job growth than any other part of the economy.   The data show that healthcare jobs are continuing their upward trend,  even in a weak economy, by adding 32,800 jobs in May.  The even BIGGER issue, from my perspective, is the very clear and looming shortage of healthcare professionals to deliver the care.  Over the next decade – as the boomers enter a new stage of life (do you like my euphemism?) – fully one-third of physicians will enter retirement, disability or death.  Now, that’s ominous.  We need to begin the dialogue now on a new delivery model and the debate is only now at the very formative stages.


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