The Covid-19 pandemic magnified the focus on the healthcare sector as professionals in the industry worked tirelessly, round the clock, to provide critical medical care to millions. Registered nurses (RNs) are at the heart of the US healthcare system, with 4.3 million workers delivering care, evolving health care systems, and closing healthcare disparities. The increasing demand for healthcare services are at the center of the ongoing disruption in supply and demand of RNs in the US.

Keeping these key factors in mind, it’s imperative for employers to identify the right channels to attract and retain the correct candidates and stay ahead of the curve. In a highly competitive and rapidly evolving job market, employers must strike the right balance of data and tech to maximize gains from their sourcing strategies.

Is the Industry Staring at an Inflection Point?

The healthcare industry is at the crossroads of a nursing shortage which is expected to continue for quite some time. Registered nurses are an ageing workforce in the US, with one-third of the current population potentially retiring over the next 10-15 years. This also includes nursing faculty shortages that will affect future capability building, as more nurses will be trained with fewer, inexperienced resources.

Additionally, the last of the US Baby Boomers is poised to retire by 2029, driving the need to provide more care and nursing services. While life expectancies have improved, healthcare professionals, including RNs, are tasked with treating multiple diagnoses and comorbidities over a longer period.

Covid-19 put further dents into an already tight workforce, with about 100,000 registered nurses leaving their workplace due to the stress and burnout they faced during the pandemic. A survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, provides some in-depth insights into the pulse of the workers and how the occupation might evolve going forward:

  • Around 610,388 RNs with more than 10 years of experience and an average age of 57 reported their intent to leave the workforce by 2027 due to stress and burnout.
  • With the current levels of exit and potential retirements, the industry would eventually rely on nurses with less than 10 years of experience to take up roles as mentors.
  • 62% RNs surveyed reported increased workload during the pandemic and 50.8% reported feeling emotionally drained at work.   

These indicators point towards the glaring fact that registered nurses are in high demand, and attracting the right talent in a rapidly evolving and competitive job market is imperative to succeed. 

It Might Not Be All Doom and Gloom

While macro trends point towards a crisis of supply, there are certain demand indicators that cement confidence within the industry. 

Firstly, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the occupation to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031, indicating ~200,000 job openings for RNs each year. This significant growth is expected to be complemented by the increasing popularity of online nursing programs and completion of BSNs. Further, there is a huge drive at the state and federal levels to mitigate the risk of nursing shortages through policies and grants. For example:

  • The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is currently driving efforts for federal legislation and more funding for nursing education. 
  • The US Department of Laborsanctioned $78 million in grants to support workforce training programs in 17 states (including California and New York) in the US among nursing professionals.

Secondly, attractive pay within the job function is also expected to drive up supply going forward as employers focus on providing other varied benefits to attract talent, with pay being at the core of their strategy. According to the US BLS, as of 2022, the average annual wage of a RN stood at $81,220, increasing from $77,060 in 2021. Additionally, US healthcare stakeholders are working closely to address issues of burnout, stress, and fatigue and increase support for nurses’ medical health. 

  • For instance, the American Nurses association created the “Healthy Nurse, Health Nation” program aimed at providing resources and help from the community to improve nurses’ overall health.
  • The American Nurses Foundation also launched the “Well-being Initiative” that helps connect nurses with therapy, podcasts, grief support, stress self-assessments and other mental health care tools.

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Given the current landscape, recruiters in the healthcare industry are rushing to secure talent and also look at ways in securing sustainable growth in their workforce strategies. Securing talent supply and interest in job openings are going to become extremely tricky. Identifying what occupations RNs come from helps employers tailor job ads to reach the desired audiences. Identifying the right channels coupled with a programmatic job advertising partner, can help healthcare employers secure their talent pipeline.

In a competitive labor market, effective recruitment and staffing requires a data-driven approach, as most job sites optimize for the easy metrics (clicks or cost-per-click), instead of the important ones (number of hires or cost-per-hire). But we know your goal: more hires, at a lower cost. 

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