Author: Meredith Kenyon
Vice President of Workforce and Education
MHA has been collecting vacancy and turnover rates of
hospital-based professions since 2001. Throughout the last 15 years, the report
has evolved. Today, health care is the fastest growing job sector, and demand
for both skilled and unskilled workers is high.
MHA’s newly released 2016 Workforce Report, Mapping
Missouri’s Health Care Workforce, finds continuing high rates of
vacancy and turnover in hospital-based health professions statewide. The report
includes data from 148 hospitals and identifies trends among 36 hospital-based
positions, and five clinic and physician practice positions. Complete turnover
and vacancy information for surveyed positions is available on the workforce Web page.
Recruiting and retaining qualified health care workers in a
highly competitive labor market is a major challenge facing Missouri hospitals.
There are a multitude of factors impacting the health care
workforce in Missouri including:
- sicker hospital patients
- expanded access to health care
- new positions created by the Affordable Care Act
- an aging patient population
- retirement of baby boomers from health care professions
- millennials becoming the largest generation in
- accessibility to a wealth of job opportunities
at the click of a button
- lack of Missouri Medicaid expansion
Although several workforce investments have been made throughout
the last year, the state’s hospital workforce continues to experience
troublingly high rates of vacancy and turnover. This year’s report finds that
Staff Nurse (R.N.) turnover reached an all-time high of 17.9 percent during the
survey period. The category comprises nearly 60 percent of the hospital
workforce. Although the exact causes of turnover are unclear, the
price remains very high — the turnover of each bedside nurse is estimated to
cost a hospital between $36,900 and $57,300. Housekeeper turnover is the
highest in the state at 29.6 percent. Both of these professions are critical to
supporting a fully-functioning hospital.
Vacancy rates are a concern for hospitals as well. Vacancy
rates reflect difficulty in finding employees, rather than turnover within the
workforce. Missouri is facing a serious mental health workforce shortage. Behavioral
Health Nurse (R.N.) vacancy is the highest in the state at 12 percent.
Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t use an old map to
explore a new world.” Consider the next era of health care reform. As hospitals
and patient care evolve, delivering the workforce needed to care for
Missourians in the future requires new investments where all stakeholders on
the map must work collaboratively to strengthen and enlarge the state’s health
care workforce, building new health career pathways to fill vacancies and
eliminating road blocks to improve turnover. This year’s workforce report will
help all stakeholders plot the position workforce on the map. To get to the
destination, there must be concerted effort to identify the best route forward.
Workforce development is a long-term endeavor, and course corrections will be
part of the road ahead. Missouri needs long-term investment and ongoing
partnerships to deliver the workforce Missourians deserve.