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4 Takeaways from the AHA's Annual Workforce Report

By Lena J. Weiner  
   March 06, 2017

The role of HR is changing, staffing challenges will continue, and smart leaders will be well-versed in the need to address issues surrounding a diverse workforce.

What keeps you up at night? If you have repeated nightmares about handing the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, I'm afraid I can't help you.

But if staffing challenges, succession planning headaches, or increased pressure to find diverse and culturally competent workers are on your mind, rest assured that you're in good company.

The American Hospital Association recently published its annual healthcare workforce report, a snapshot of current issues troubling hospital human resource leaders, and there are fresh issues on the plates of all HR leaders.

"We are really trying to look at how hospitals and health systems must align to move forward," says Kimberly McNally, MN, RN, BCC. She is a trustee at the AHA and chair of the committee report, and president of the consultancy, McNally & Associates, headquartered in Seattle.

"This report aims to elevate the conversation and amplify it as we begin to talk about future workforce needs, and set the stage for the longer term, bigger picture."

Below are four takeaways from the report.

1. HR's Role is Changing

One major shift McNally and her colleagues noticed is the changing role of HR in healthcare business. In short, expect to be invited to the join other C-suiters in the boardroom and be asked to weigh in on policy more frequently.

"HR now has a seat at the table," says McNally. Healthcare administrators are finding value in creating roles in upper management for HR professionals, including C-suite positions such as chief human resource officer, she says.

McNally sees this as a positive, and not just for HR itself. "HR leaders are really the translators of the C-suite's work. The C-suite develops policy, while HR ensures its implementation, and helps to close the gaps between planning and implementation."

2. Staffing Challenges: No End in Sight

Especially in rural areas, the clinician shortage persists.

"There are definitely physician shortages in certain areas," says McNally. Medical schools have a limited number of residency slots and regulatory challenges such as restrictions on allowing clinicians to practice in states in which they are not licensed exacerbate the problem.

"The key takeaway," she says, is that there are "barriers to people being able to practice at level of license, and limitations to number of physicians that can be trained, which increases problems related to the shortage."

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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