Wisconsin Hospitals Face Perfect Workforce Storm

Wisconsin Hospitals Face Perfect Workforce Storm

December 23, 2018

WHA 2018 Health Care Workforce Report provides recommendations to maintain access to high-quality health care

The Wisconsin Hospital Association released its Wisconsin 2018 Health Care Workforce Report December 13. This 15th annual report provides analysis and recommendations to ensure Wisconsin has the health care labor force it needs to maintain access to high-quality, health-value health care in Wisconsin communities.

Key findings in this year’s report:

  • Vacancy rates remain high for professions at the entry-level and advanced practice level of health care career paths;
  • Wisconsin’s physician supply is not growing fast enough to keep up with physician retirements and the demands of an aging population;
  • Employment of advanced practice providers by Wisconsin hospitals has almost tripled in less than a decade; and,
  • The state’s health care workforce is older in rural settings across all roles and professions.
An aging population and an aging workforce are key drivers of the issues identified in WHA’s 2018 report. 

“Unlike most industries, demand for health care is largely a function of demographics rather than economic cycles,” explains WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “Wisconsin’s over 65 population is expected to double by 2030. This means increasing demands on and for the health care workforce during a period of record unemployment and a diminishing labor force.”  

The report recommends that Wisconsin:

Attract entry-level workers to climb heath care career pathways to fill in-demand positions such as registered nurses, surgical technicians, and nurse anesthetists; 
Implement strategies to more quickly grow our supply of physicians; 
Reform state law to allow advanced practice providers (APPs) to fully use their education, training and experience; and 
Leverage the use of technology to maintain access to health care in communities across Wisconsin.

“With record low unemployment and increased vacancy rates, we simply do not have the labor force we need to meet increasing health care demands.  An aging population needs more physicians to manage chronic health care conditions, especially in primary care,” said Ann Zenk, WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice. “Policymakers, health care leaders, health care educators and other key stakeholders can tackle this worrisome equation together by acting with urgency now to implement solutions that protect access to high-quality health care in the future.” 

For more information about WHA’s Wisconsin 2018 Health Care Workforce Report, contact Ann Zenk.

This story originally appeared in the December 23, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter