Tackling the Issues of Skills Shortages in the Medical Field

With the fragility of the labour market ever more evident in recent years, companies must be mindful of the considerable fluctuations in the availability of skills and jobs.

Signs of such are already apparent in the global health industry with a shortage in physicians and practitioners. In fact, the WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health – Workforce Report predicts a shortage of up to 9.9 million physicians, nurses, midwives and other health professionals in 2030.

Henceforth, identifying, determining and understanding future workforce demands or skills shortages can undoubtedly benefit all parties and can present opportunities.

The reasons for skills shortages naturally vary from region to region as the local demand for the said skill differs. Some of the possible reasons are as follows:

It can be the result of shifting within the industry. For example, fewer physicians in the United States are employed in the private sector. This is because more doctors are moving their talents over to the public sector or to public hospitals.

There could be an active ageing workforce present in the industry as the younger age group would lack interest to work in the said industry. Physicians above the age of 55 years old are presently dominating the medical field. At this rate, there will be a problem with sustainability if the number of younger talent candidates or medical graduates does not increase.

Such a shortage of health professionals can affect workflow which can directly inconvenience potential and existing patients. According to a 2011 study in the British Medical Journal, 8 out of 10 young British doctors experience stress due to being overworked as they are forced to see up to possibly 70 patients a day.  This negatively affects patients as they can be fatally misdiagnosed or be provided with incorrect prescriptions.

Hereafter, it is critical that companies in the medical industry search for solutions to combat skills shortages, to stay relevant and to be competitive in the market. Such solutions can be as follows:

Maintain a reliable talent pool so as to build a group of skilled prospects. Moreover, seek passive recruitment as an alternative option.

Reward workers more. Fresh graduates who enter their physician-in-training are paid low salaries. Facing difficulties such as student loans and added expenses may make it difficult to recruit new talent. In that case, offering an attractive package will ultimately please both parties. This package can also provide several alluring benefits and offers.

Nurture the existing employees that a company may have by offering training like registered apprenticeships. This is especially needed regarding to newly graduated registered nurses.

Embrace technology to lesson heavy caseloads. A 2019 report by the Economist expressed doctors were excited to incorporate technology to manage their workload. For example, technological advances have allowed physicians to prepare and report large numbers of X-ray reports in a shorter period of time.

Efficient training programmes. Health professionals can now be trained effectively with new advanced gear like the Osso VR, a virtual reality platform for surgeons.

Ultimately, to overcome skills shortages companies in the medical industry need to take cautious actions due to the sudden changes in the labour market. They need to seek creative ways to recruit skilled physicians and practitioners as well as create a workforce suited for technological advances if needed.

References:

  1. Doctoring The Doctor Shortage, March 2019, Forbes
  2. Doctor Shortage will only worsen under single-payer, September 2018, Investor’s Business Daily
  3. Data and statistics, October 2018, World Health Organization.
  4. Help Desperately Wanted: The Coming Employee Shortage, January 2019, Forbes.
  5. Virtual Reality Surgical Training and Assessment Platform- Osso VR
  6. What are skills shortages? , October 2018, Australian Government- Department of Jobs and Small Business
  7. Employee Recruitment Strategies to improve your hiring process, July 2018, Technology Advice