Workforce challenges was the top concern of CEOs responding to the 2022 annual American College of Healthcare Executives survey for issues confronting hospitals. It was the first year the workforce challenges category was included in the survey, beating out financial challenges (ranked second) and behavioral health and addiction issues (ranked third). The workforce challenges category did include the subcategory of personnel shortages, which was part of the 2021 survey.
“Hospitals need to take both long- and short-term measures to address critical workforce issues so they can continue to provide safe, high-quality care now and in the future,” said Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE, president and CEO of ACHE.
ACHE Survey Results
ACHE is the professional home to more than 48,000 healthcare executives seeking to advance the field of healthcare leadership. The survey was sent out to 1,321 hospital CEOS, with 21 percent responding. They ranked 11 categories affecting their hospitals by order of importance. Each of the 11 categories contained specific subcategories, such as a shortage of registered nurses, technicians, physician specialists, etc., hospitals were facing. Shortages of RNs ranked first, with 90 percent of respondents saying there were contending with this issue, followed by technicians at 83 percent. Burnout among non-physician staff was listed at 80 percent.
Healthcare officials sounded the alarm for more staffing in the wake of a shortage that started before the pandemic. A 2019 white paper titled Critical Shortage of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Predicted warned of the need for more staff. Since the pandemic, burnout has been a significant contributor to the decline in addition to an aging U.S. population. A 2022 Health Affairs analysis revealed 100,000 nurses left the workforce between 2020 and 2021, the most significant drop in four decades, including a 4.0 percent reduction in nurses 35 and younger.
The impact has been swift. Last fall, RSV cases among children overwhelmed hospitals, with some reporting as much as 99 percent of their beds full. A lack of ambulance transport and delayed diagnosis are also being reported as the results of a strained workforce.
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