Healthcare Staffing Crisis

Healthcare Staffing Crisis

The US faced a critical shortage of healthcare workers before the COVID-19 pandemic, making staff retention even more crucial during the pandemic.

Health care workers in the USA

Currently, there are


physicians in the U.S.


physicians over 55 years old


registered nurses in the U.S.

RNs working in hospital settings


hospital RNs over 55 years old

RNs working outside of hospitals


non-hospital RNs over 55 years old

These demographics matter given that HCW supply does not meet demand.

HCW shortfall is significant and a crisis in the making unless steps are taken to address workforce attrition.

Nurse attrition: COVID-19 is making a bad situation worse

With more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees to avoid a nursing shortage.

Over the past decade, the average age of employed RNs has increased by nearly two years, from 42.7 years in 2000 to 44.6 years in 2010.

Currently, the national average for nursing turnover rates is 8.8% to 37.0%, depending on geographic location and nursing specialty.

An estimated 30%-50% of all new RNs either change jobs within nursing or leave the profession altogether within the first 3 years of clinical practice.

COVID-19 is exacerbating nurse attrition due to stress and burnout.

Home Healthcare Shortages

America’s home health-care system is in crisis as the worker shortage worsens.

According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute:


of home healthcare workers are ages 45 to 64


of home healthcare workers are women


of home healthcare workers are people of color


of home healthcare workers are immigrants

Many of these demographics are economically and socially vulnerable.

Many nursing homes struggled with staffing before COVID-19. Shortages have been magnified because many staff members are unable or unwilling to work in the conditions posed by COVID-19.

Nursing home staffers are quitting in large numbers, due to COVID-19  fears and what staff describe as a slipshod emergency response to safety issues by management.

Staff in many care homes have complained that their employers hid the severity of outbreaks, in part because they were desperate to retain staff who were scared and disillusioned with poor working conditions and pay as low as $11 per hour.

There have been reports of managers pressuring sick or infected workers to show up for work.

Testing for staff in care homes is often inadequate, as is supply of PPE.

From the federal government nursing home survey, August 2020, a national database containing data from 98 percent of US nursing homes (about 2,000 facilities did not respond to the survey): At least 3,200 nursing homes–23% of the 13,600 facilities that submitted data–reported staffing shortages in late May, according to the Reuters analysis.

One in five nursing homes reports a severe shortage of PPE and staff. Rates of both staff and PPE shortages did not meaningfully improve from May to July 2020.


American Nurses Association, Workforce

MacKusick, C.I. and Minick, P., 2010. Why are nurses leaving? Findings from an initial qualitative study on nursing attrition. MEDSURG nursing, 19(6).

PHI National

McGarry, B.E., Grabowski, D.C. and Barnett, M.L., 2020. Severe Staffing And Personal Protective Equipment Shortages Faced By Nursing Homes During The COVID-19 Pandemic: Study examines staffing and personal protective equipment shortages faced by nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Affairs, pp.10-1377.

Reuters, Special Report: Pandemic exposes systemic staffing problems at U.S. nursing homes