The report outlines ways to solve Maryland’s worsening health care workforce shortage

The state has lost 5,000 full-time registered nurses and 4,000 licensed practical nurses, and projections show that shortage could triple by 2035. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, file)

Maryland is experiencing its worst healthcare workforce shortage in recent memory, with one in four nursing positions currently vacant, according to a study commissioned by the Maryland Hospital Association.

That to learn, prepared by the company GlobalData, indicates that the current shortage of healthcare workers is likely to worsen without some kind of intervention. The state has lost 5,000 full-time registered nurses and 4,000 licensed practical nurses, and projections show that shortage could triple by 2035.

Maryland healthcare leaders are desperate for solutions before the shortage reaches this point.

A MHA task force, convened in late 2021 to address labor shortages and comprised of dozens of healthcare leaders, identified three key challenges the industry is currently facing that are preventing hospitals and other healthcare facilities from hiring enough workers – and the benefits of their to make full use of manpower. These challenges are described in MHAs 2022 Maryland State Health Workers Report.

First, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are struggling to retain workers who, largely due to burnout, are looking for work in other industries, retiring, or pursuing less intensive healthcare roles.

Changing methods of care are also affecting Maryland’s healthcare workforce, as nurses and other practitioners need to be trained in new healthcare innovations like telemedicine as they emerge.

Finally, the report says Maryland has an inadequate labor pipeline. Some of the state nursing schools face staffing issues of their own, while other obstacles, such as tuition fees, prevent prospective students from enrolling in nursing programs.

To address these challenges, the Task Force on Maryland’s Future Health Workforce has compiled a list of possible steps both the healthcare industry and policymakers can take to begin solving the state’s health workforce crisis.

They recommended several possible initiatives that could expand the state’s nursing pipeline, such as: B. Creating programs that financially encourage individuals to pursue high-demand areas of healthcare. Another program proposed by the task force would take advantage of Maryland’s proximity to military bases by encouraging discharged and retired military personnel to join the health workforce.

The task force’s recommendations to remove barriers to health care education included passing legislation to reduce costs for students pursuing a career in health care, devoting funds to clinical training for nurses, and for hospitals to provide it free of charge of training centers for nursing schools.

To retain the existing healthcare workforce, the task encouraged hospitals to be more attractive places to work for their employees by improving workplace culture, increasing flexibility in scheduling work hours, and providing more opportunities for career growth.

“Ensure inclusion and wellbeing are embedded in company values. Operationalize these values ​​through policy and practice,” the report says.

In addition to the task force’s recommendations, the report also highlights promising practices for workforce growth and retention that healthcare facilities in both Maryland and the United States have adopted.

The Green Garden Project at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, which provides staff with garden plots, gardening tools, seeds, and a water irrigation system for growing food on the hospital’s campus, is cited as an example of a practice that could help staff to keep. A recruitment program targeting low-income residents living near a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio is cited as an example of a successful addition to the region’s nursing pipeline.

“This data-backed report lays the foundation for the long-felt and now urgent need to strengthen our pipeline of nurses in Maryland,” said Ed Lovern, president and CEO of Ascension Saint Agnes and chair of the task force, in a press release. “While we won’t solve the nursing shortage overnight, the task force is urging immediate and concerted action to strengthen the healthcare workforce we will need for generations to come.”

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