Healthcare workers across the nation have faced an unrelenting foe throughout their battle against the novel coronavirus dubbed COVID-19. From January 20, 2020, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the first COVID-19 case in the United States, through the end of 2021, medical staff have been repeatedly rocked with multiple waves of infections resulting in hospitals filled to capacity, and sometimes beyond. As 2021 drew to a close and 2022 began with yet another COVID-19 surge, the promised return to normal has yet to fully materialize. Manning the frontlines over the last two years has caused resilient healthcare professionals to question their careers and/or the state of healthcare now and in the future.
2022 Healthcare Workforce Survey Respondents
Each year, Vivian Health conducts a survey of healthcare professionals within its ever-growing network. The survey conducted earlier this year points out some of the same concerns respondents mentioned in the 2021 survey. The State of Healthcare Report 2021 drew on responses from 1,273 nurses across all 50 states, disciplines, and points of their careers. The 2022 survey included 3,545 responses from healthcare workers in various disciplines and working in permanent and temporary roles.
The discipline breakdown among survey respondents included:
- 68% Registered Nurses
- 14% Allied Health
- 7% LPN/LVN
- 4.5% CNA
- 6.5% Other
Employment types among those surveyed included:
- 42.9% Travel
- 38.5% Permanent
- 18.6% Other
One of the most concerning trends is the increased percentage of healthcare professionals indicating they were considering leaving the healthcare profession altogether. In the 2020 survey, 80% of respondents said they’d likely continue working in healthcare post-COVID-19. By the 2021 survey, 43% of respondents were considering leaving the healthcare profession. Over 67% of the 2022 respondents said they’re considering leaving healthcare in the next five years.
Outlook for Permanent Hiring
Increased demands caused by COVID-19 exacerbated ongoing staffing issues and led to an even greater need for temporary staff to fill in the gaps. While healthcare facilities value travel nurses for pitching in when and where needed, these facilities must fill permanent positions to function well long-term.
Adequate levels of permanent staff members ensure better patient care and satisfaction and decreased levels of healthcare fatigue and burnout. Attracting new permanent staff and retaining current staff remains a challenge for many health systems.
More than 50% of nurses in permanent positions said they plan to change jobs in 2022. The top eight factors impacting clinicians’ decision to either stay in their current position or find a new one included:
Although 73.5% of survey respondents indicated they earned more money in 2021 than in 2020, increased hours, including mandatory overtime, may have significantly influenced these higher earnings. Increased earnings don’t necessarily translate to increases in regular healthcare pay rates. Many healthcare professionals weren’t satisfied with their compensation as they continually faced high-risk situations head-on.
Compensation ranked first as the most essential attribute healthcare workers plan to look for in future job and/or career choices. It was also a top priority among travel nurses. The average per hour rate travel nurses said they’d accept for a permanent job was $52. However, nurses in Florida had higher aspirations, with $72.71 being the average rate that would entice them to take a perm role.
Among the travel, per diem, or unemployed respondents, nearly 17% said they were open to working a permanent role in the future. However, the timing of transitioning to a perm position greatly varied, with:
- 21% currently searching
- 11% planning to search within 6 months
- 22% planning to search within 6 to 12 months
- 25% planning to search within 1 to 2 years
- 13% not planning on starting their search for more than 2 years
- 7% unsure when they’d start searching
Quality of Life Impacting Job Satisfaction
Morale among healthcare workers continued its downward spiral. Among those surveyed, 76.4% stated that morale in their hospital had gotten worse since this time last year. In comparison, 72% of respondents in 2021 said morale had worsened over the last year. Low morale can impact quality of life, while higher morale generates better physical and psychological health. Making matters worse, more than 79% of respondents said their employers weren’t doing enough to support their mental health.
Another factor impacting job satisfaction and quality of life is workload. Employees with manageable workloads feel less overwhelmed and enjoy their work environment more. During the 2021 survey, 86% of respondents said their hospitals or facilities were still, on average, short-staffed.
Among respondents on the 2022 survey, 44.4% said they felt their units were short-staffed all the time and another 28.2% said their units were short-staffed most of the time. Overall, 46.6% said staffing shortages were far worse than they were the year before. Continued staffing shortages increase workloads and stress, leading to job dissatisfaction and the potential desire to change positions or careers.
Looking to the Future
Many healthcare workers are looking for new opportunities, either actively or passively. Health systems looking for more effective recruitment and healthcare hiring strategies should focus on the candidate experience, something that’s been dramatically lacking in the past.
Healthcare employers and recruiters must be responsive, reply promptly, and be fully engaged in listening to the candidate’s needs to improve the healthcare hiring experience. They also must be transparent to ensure the candidate has all the information they need to decide whether they wish to proceed, including transparency about pay, benefits, and ancillary support services.
Although survey results may paint a dire picture of the state of the healthcare workforce, Vivian Health is taking great strides to empower healthcare professionals nationwide to find jobs they enjoy and feel passionate about. From transparency in pay and benefits to unbiased employer reviews, Vivian strives to provide fulfillment and stability for workers seeking new roles in the healthcare industry.
Request the full State of Healthcare Workforce 2022 report to learn more about what’s next for America’s healthcare workers.