Survey Finds Chronic, Widespread Shortages of Allied Care Professionals

By John Commins

Hospitals, clinics and other care venues are reporting chronic shortages of therapists, imaging and lab techs, and other allied care professionals, according to a new survey from AMN Healthcare.

A survey of 1,005 healthcare venues by the Dallas-based healthcare staffing recruiter found that 85% of respondents say they are experiencing a shortage of allied healthcare professionals “a great deal,” “a lot” or “a moderate amount,” while 82% report hiring new graduates over the last 12 months to address ongoing staffing shortages. Only 15% responded “a little” or “not at all.”

“The national shortage of healthcare professionals is not limited to nurses and physicians,” says Robin Johnson, AMN divisional president. “Allied healthcare professionals also are in short supply and many facilities are struggling to keep pace with their staffing needs.”

Eighty percent of the respondents say their biggest recruiting challenge is the labor shortage, which has resulted in longer times to fill positions for 71% of those surveyed, while 46% said burnout also poses a major staffing challenge.

Rising Pay, Using Temps

To address the shortage, 67% of respondents say they’re offering signing bonuses and other incentives for new hires, 59% say they’re raising pay, and 59% say they’re hiring temps to fill staffing gaps.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled an increase in temporary allied care staffing, just as it has with traveling nurses and physicians. Before the pandemic, survey respondents say that temps accounted for 25% of their allied staffs. Post-pandemic, that average has risen to 30%.

“The fact that 30% of healthcare facilities’ allied healthcare professional staffs now are composed of temporary providers underscores the increasingly mobile nature of the healthcare work force,” Johnson says.

Most in Demand

When asked what new graduates they hired in the past year, 38% hired radiologic technologists, 36% hired physical therapists, 31% hired laboratory technicians, 30% hired occupational therapists, and 26% hired speech language pathologists.

Johnson says the high demand for radiologic technologists suggests that elective medical services are rebounding after being all-but-shuttered during the height of the pandemic. Demand for other allied professionals is largely tied to patient aging, patient backlogs created by COVID-19, widespread poor health, and related factors.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.