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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

MDH report cites need for retaining, recruiting health care workforce

Results from a Minnesota Department of Health survey confirm health care worker burnout and show workforce shortage trends are affecting a wide range of health care professionals.

The report, “Minnesota’s Health Care Workforce: Pandemic-Provoked Workforce Exits, Burnout, and Shortages” (PDF), is the first report of its kind covering the effects of the pandemic on most of the licensed health care workforce in Minnesota. It is based on the MDH health care workforce survey, which is administered at the time of license renewal for “front-line” providers including physician assistants, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nurses, physicians, mental health providers and others.

The survey data indicates alarming projected workforce losses in Minnesota’s small towns and rural areas. Nearly 1 in 5 rural health care providers say they plan to leave their profession within the next five years.

The largest projected losses are among physicians. One out of every 3 rural physicians report planning to leave their profession within the next five years.

“We are going to need several approaches and solutions aimed at both recruiting the future workforce and retaining the current one,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We in government and health care must do more to prioritize retention, work with educational institutions to expand clinical training opportunities, and focus more broadly on the care team, including nurses, physicians, physician assistants, respiratory therapists and others.”

Providers are seeing workforce shortages across Minnesota. The report found that vacancies have increased in nearly all health professions since their pre-pandemic levels, in some cases dramatically. The largest increases are in mental health and substance abuse counseling occupations, where 1 in 4 jobs is currently vacant and open for hire.

In nearly every profession, more providers than in prior years reported that they planned to leave their profession within the next five years, and a much higher share of these exits is due to burnout.

While burnout among nurses has been widely recognized, other providers are also struggling. Burnout or job dissatisfaction accounted for 26% of all physician assistant workforce exits, and 22% of respiratory therapy exits.

For more on the report, watch the Cottonwood County Citizen for a more extensive story on the survey results.

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