Shortage Crisis: Pennsylvania Hospitals Struggle to Fill Health Care Workforce Needs

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) recently released a report detailing the challenges that hospitals in the state are facing when it comes to hiring and retaining healthcare professionals. According to the report, while Pennsylvania hospitals have made some progress in reducing care team turnovers, they continue to struggle with filling direct care positions.

The report highlights the ongoing shortage of healthcare workers in Pennsylvania and across the country, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. HAP noted that the aging population has led to an increase in demand for care just as more healthcare professionals are reaching retirement age. This has created a significant gap in the workforce that is proving challenging to fill.

In response to the shortage, Pennsylvania hospitals have implemented various strategies to attract and retain healthcare professionals. These include raising pay, offering flexible work schedules, and partnering with educators to develop the next generation of caregivers. Despite these efforts, hospitals continue to face high vacancy rates for nursing support and registered nurse positions, especially in rural communities.

Looking ahead, projections from Mercer suggest that Pennsylvania will experience a significant shortfall of registered nurses by 2026, as well as shortages in nursing support professionals and mental health providers. In light of these projections, HAP President and CEO Nicole Stallings emphasized the need for comprehensive investments and public policies to strengthen Pennsylvania’s healthcare workforce.

To address the workforce shortage, HAP has put forward a set of policy recommendations aimed at growing the number of healthcare professionals in the state. These recommendations include expanding student loan repayment for frontline nurses and primary care providers, recruiting international professionals through an increase in J1 visas, and investing in initiatives that promote partnerships between healthcare, education, community organizations, and the state.

HAP’s Health Care Talent Task Force has been at the forefront of developing these policy recommendations, laying out a roadmap for addressing the growing need for healthcare talent in Pennsylvania. The organization’s efforts underscore the urgency of addressing the workforce shortage and the critical role that public policies can play in strengthening the state’s healthcare workforce.