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Workforces Go Where the Opportunity Is

News  |  By Jim Molpus  
   December 01, 2017

As I write this note, Amazon is still looking for a city for its second national headquarters, or "HQ2."

This article first appeared in the December 2017 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

The lure of 50,000 high-paying tech jobs and billions in economic impact will be the corporate HQ prize of the first part of the century, once it is announced.

I'm rooting for Detroit, because how often does a company get the opportunity to rebuild a great city? Amazon would fit right in in Austin.

Anywhere, please, but my home of Nashville. We can't handle the traffic and crowded suburban schools we have as it is.

Wherever Amazon lands, jobs will follow. The only sure prediction we can make, really, is that jobs always follow opportunity. Trying to predict anything else about a workforce is slippery, especially in healthcare.

In our cover story this month, senior nursing editor Jennifer Thew, RN, looks at our continuing grapple with the workforce "shortage" of physicians and nurses.

She points to conflicting studies and predictions that force us to ask if there truly is a shortage coming in the healthcare workforce. It seems like this predicted shortage has been around so long that we've accepted it as inevitable.

In the nursing workforce, the question may be less about an aggregate shortage of RNs but more about the supply and demand of a specific set of services that are likely needed in the future.

The growth of advanced practice nurses seems likely to continue its acceleration as consumer access and better technology merge to create demand. Will there be a shortage of bedside inpatient RNs in the future compared to what we have now?

I certainly hope so. If we need more bedside RNs going forward, that would be a clear indicator that the overall push toward keeping patients healthier and out of the hospitals has failed.

The aspect of the healthcare workforce that is of some concern is how we will find new ways to attract nurses and physicians to rural areas, where they can have a significant and personal impact on the health of the community.

Our cover story profiles the work that organizations such as Kearny County Hospital have done to flip the equation.

Rather than bemoan the recruiting challenges of being in a rural area, they embrace it by offering physicians the mission to care for a growing international population in the county but also spend time overseas on international medical missions.

In this case, the jobs followed an opportunity to serve.

It doesn't always take a massive corporate HQ addition to create opportunity.

Jim Molpus is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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