Hospitals nationwide face unprecedented turnover, report says

Patient and nurse in hospital
The current hospital environment promotes high turnover. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Hospitals face unprecedented turnover, particularly among clinical administrators, physicians, nurses and members of the C-suite, according to a new report.

Hospitals are on pace to require replacing virtually half of their staff every five years, according to the report conducted by Leaders for Today, a national healthcare interim and permanent staffing company based in Wellesley, Massachusetts. And the problem is only made worse because of the looming retirements of baby boomers, which means the industry will lose staff with experience and skillsets not easily replaced.

“This study confirmed what is the worst-case scenario for many hospitals, they are losing critical employees faster than they can replace them,” said Bill Haylon, CEO of Leaders for Today in an announcement. “The average hospital has hundreds of open positions at any one time. How confident would you be in going to one of these facilities for care knowing they are so short-staffed at important positions?”

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The report, “The Other Elephant in the Hospital Room,” is based on the responses of a nationwide survey in April of 852 hospital personnel, including C-suite executives, clinical administrators, nonclinical administrators, staff physicians and staff nurses. The responses revealed a troubling state of turnover and a waning pool of qualified candidates. The report found:

  • Nearly 43% of respondents have been with their current hospitals for fewer than two years
  • Approximately 66% have been with their hospital for fewer than five years
  • About 37% plan to leave their current hospital within the next two years
  • Roughly 69% intend to leave their organization within five years

The company said that the current hospital environment promotes high turnover. Nearly 28% of respondents reported that they left their job for a promotion or better opportunity for advancement. Another 14.4% left for better compensation.

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“This means well over half of the people (58.2%), left for other reasons including long work hours, frustration or burnout, resulting in a ‘vicious cycle’ caused by understaffing and a lack of experience,” according to the report.

Retirements will only create a shrinking pool of experienced workers. Nearly 50% said they plan to stop working within the next 10 years and 22% will retire in five years.

Another factor that contributes to the employee shortage is the hiring process itself, according the report. Fifty percent said they never hear back from the organization or the process takes too long (46.1%).

“Our findings suggest that hospitals that can optimize the hiring process and move quickly will have a significant advantage in a competitive marketplace for talent. Those who can’t adjust are likely to fall even further behind,” the company said in the announcement.