Majority of hospital execs believe there is doctor, nurse shortage

A majority of hospital executives believe there is a shortage of physicians and nurses in the United States, according to a new survey from AMN Healthcare.

AMN's 2013 Clinical Workforce Survey found that 78 percent of hospital execs think there is a shortage of physicians, 66 percent say there is a shortage of nurses and 50 percent report there is a shortage of advanced practitioners.

The survey also found that the vacancy rate for physicians in hospitals is nearly 18 percent, compared to 10.7 percent in 2009, and nearly 17 percent for nurses, up from only 5.5 percent in 2009. The vacancy rate also rose for allied professions, from 4.6 percent in 2009 to 13.3 percent in 2013.

"Change in healthcare is a continuous evolution, but the one constant is people," AMN President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Salka said in a statement. "No matter what models of care are in place, it takes physicians, nurses and other clinicians to provide quality patient care, and the fact is we simply do not have enough of them."

The emphasis hospital execs place on addressing vacancies is also on the rise, according to the survey. More than 70 percent ranked physician, nurse, nurse practitioner and physician assistant staffing as a high priority for 2013, compared to only 24 percent in 2009, according to the survey.

Salka said the increase in vacancy rates and hospitals' focus on clinical staffing is due to myriad factors, including the slowly improving economy, increased demand, an aging workforce and the results of healthcare reform.

"We are expanding access to healthcare and restructuring the delivery system to improve quality and reduce costs at the precise moment when a wave of physicians and nurses is set to retire," she said. "It will take new, collaborative and innovative staffing models to ensure our workforce is aligned with the goals we all want to reach."

Although Medicaid expansion is still up in the air in many states, an increase in patients covered under the program is likely to exacerbate the physician shortage, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the survey
- read the statement