Demand for Advanced Practice Professionals in Hospitals Remains Strong
Vacancy rates for most hospital positions are low now, but retirements loom
MADISON (December 17, 2013) -----The demand for advanced practice professionals (APPs) in Wisconsin remains strong as health care providers expect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to trigger an increase in demand for basic medical services. Evidence is mounting that the predicted shortage of primary care physicians is being partially addressed by incorporating APPs into hospitals and clinics. The reported 2012 vacancy rate of 7.6 percent for advanced practice nurses and physician assistants is the highest reported by hospitals in the annual WHA hospital personnel survey. The survey includes all hospitals in Wisconsin and represents an accurate picture of hospital-based employment.
While employment in health care has remained fairly steady during and after the recent recession, hospital vacancy rates in the 17 clinical occupations included in the survey, excluding APPs, have steadily declined.
According to a new report released by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, vacancy rates in most health care occupations have slowly declined over the past five years. However, “The recession reshaped the health care landscape. At one time, health care workers expected to retire in their late 50s, now the economy has caused these folks to stay in the workforce longer,” according to Judy Warmuth, RN, PhD, vice president of workforce at WHA. “Many hospitals are reporting that at least 20 percent of the people working in some areas of the hospital are over 55. When these individuals begin to retire over the next decade or so, that will open the door for new graduates.”
The shift of surgeries and procedures from inpatient to the outpatient settings continues, which means that hospital employment has seen a slight decline with a parallel increase in employment in other types of care facilities.
Registered nurses (RNs) remain the largest occupation group in health care with 90,000 RNs currently in Wisconsin, with a hospital registered nurse vacancy rate of only 3.4 percent. Aging of the RN workforce continues to be a concern. Nearly 30 percent of all Wisconsin working nurses are over age 55. An almost alarming number of nurse educators and faculty are over age 55.