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Healthcare Staffing Outlook: Strong Worker Demand Eyed for 2017

By Lena J. Weiner  
   January 16, 2017

The news is good for job seekers, but ongoing high demand for clinicians and leaders means hiring managers might benefit from thinking creatively about retention strategies.

Uncertainty rules as hospital and health system leaders wait to see how the incoming Trump administration makes good on its promise to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Even so, healthcare HR leaders can reliably expect a few challenges involving staffing in the new year, owing to the continuing demand for workers, a fact that is not expected to change this year, regardless of what happens to the ACA.

The healthcare sector added an average of 35,000 jobs monthly in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' January jobs report, and job growth shows no sign of slowing.

"The demand for talent is rising across the board," says Brian McCloskey, senior vice president of candidate sourcing and digital marketing at AMN Healthcare, a healthcare staffing firm based in San Diego. "It's been strong for the past two years, at least. Healthcare continues to be the fastest growing and strongest job producer in the national economy."

That's good news for job seekers and for the overall economy, but the continuing high demand for workers is putting a strain on hiring managers and recruitment executives.

1. Allied Health Workers in Demand
The healthcare workers in greatest demand this year will be allied health professionals, McCloskey predicts. Physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists, in addition to speech and language pathologists, will be among the hottest hires of the year, he says.

"Healthcare is now incentivizing people to stay healthy, and therapists are where look to support that strategy." These roles used to be "easy to fill, but are less easy than before; the shortage is starting to mirror the shortage for nurses and physicians."

Given the demand for these positions, HR leaders can expect fierce competition in recruitment. Once these workers are hired, aggressive retention efforts may be necessary to hang on to them.


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

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