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What to Expect: The State of Nurse Staffing in 2022

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January 20, 2022

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The nursing shortage has significantly impacted hospital nurse staffing, leaving the United States healthcare system in critical condition that could last until 2030. Since there are many factors at play regarding the ongoing nursing shortage, we will look at the current state of nurse staffing, determine what is to blame for the continuing shortage, and what solutions to alleviate the strain of the ongoing shortage.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen registered nurses across the country display bravery and courage as they took on a pandemic of a large magnitude. However, the strain the ongoing pandemic has caused will affect healthcare systems, their staff, and overall patient care for years to come. Most of this stress is due to hospitals' limited staff and resources. The influx of patients has also made it nearly impossible for hospital staff to keep up and provide quality patient care. Below are upcoming trends that hospitals will see in 2022 and beyond following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurse Staffing Trends From 2022

Job Openings for Registered Nurses Continued to Rise

With the growing demands of an aging population, advances in medical technology, and the ongoing pandemic recovery efforts, we witnessed a rise in job openings for registered nurses nationwide. The vital role nurses play in providing compassionate nursing and patient care became evident in 2022, and the demand for skilled and dedicated nurses remained strong.

In the past year, many healthcare facilities benefited by partnering with Avant Healthcare Professionals. Organizations were able to access a diverse pool of talented nurses from around the globe, enabling them to fill critical positions efficiently and effectively. We were and continue to be committed to supporting the healthcare industry's staffing needs and facilitating the continued growth of nurse staffing opportunities in the United States.

Interprofessional Collaboration and Team-Based Care Increased

Interprofessional collaboration and team-based care became important in nurse staffing trends in 2022. Nurses worked closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, pharmacists, and allied health professionals, to provide comprehensive and coordinated care. Effective communication, mutual respect, and shared decision-making were critical in optimizing patient outcomes and reducing the burden on individual nurses. 

Current State of Nurse Staffing

As the demand for quality patient care increases, healthcare facilities desperately need experienced, qualified registered nurses to meet the demand. In a recent study, registered nursing was the fifth most in-demand job in the American workforce. As the market continues to increase and resources continue to be limited, healthcare facilities are doing everything they can to find ways to alleviate the stress of the ongoing shortage. It is projected that 1.2 million nurses will be needed by 2030 to address the current deficit.

An Aging Population Presents Nurse Staffing Challenges

To compound the issue, the aging population in many countries has increased the demand for healthcare services, leading to an increased need for qualified nurses across various specialties. This demographic shift, coupled with the retiring baby boomer generation of nurses, has created a significant void in the healthcare workforce that must be filled to ensure the provision of high-quality care. The population increase dramatically affected the current state of nurse staffing as nurses see more patients than ever. Nursing schools and graduate nurse programs also have issues meeting the demand for experienced nurse leaders.

New Nursing Graduates With Limited Expertise

Currently, 70,000 nurses are retiring annually, meaning all are leaving the workforce and taking years of experience and knowledge with them. The current state of nurse staffing also deals with a pipeline of new nurses beginning their careers. We are seeing an increase in students rejected from nursing programs nationwide. Although more nurses are needed to provide medical care for patient needs, nursing programs do not have the faculty to teach these students. If more resources and tenured nurses are available to teach, more nurses would be able to focus on their ongoing professional development that ensures patient safety and care. 

Persistent Staffing Shortages

In 2022, healthcare organizations are likely to continue facing persistent nurse staffing shortages. These shortages can impact patient care quality, increase nurses’ workloads, and contribute to burnout. Healthcare facilities must update and explore new recruitment efforts, offer competitive compensation packages, and explore partnerships with educational institutions to attract and retain qualified nursing professionals. This is also where working with Avant Healthcare Professionals can help address the staffing challenges many hospitals face as shortages spike and facilities are left without compassionate care for their patients. 

Adaptation to Post-Pandemic Realities

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, healthcare systems gradually adapt to the "new normal." This includes refining strategies to manage potential surges, implementing infection prevention protocols, and addressing the mental health needs of healthcare workers. Nurse staffing plans must account for potential new pandemic challenges, including fluctuating patient volumes, potential outbreaks, and flexibility in scheduling and resource allocation.

Future of Nurse Staffing

In the upcoming years, the future of nurse staffing will continue to face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other extenuating circumstances that will not quickly disappear. Many hospitals are very quickly seeing that nurses are getting burnt out and are choosing to retire and leave their positions earlier than anticipated. High nurse turnover will make the issue of nurse staffing shortages only worse.

The nurse-to-patient ratios will also increase in the upcoming years. Looking to the future, CNOs and healthcare executives must plan for future nurse staffing needs while also figuring out different solutions to engage and retain their staff and create better patient outcomes in their facilities. Hospital executives should be prepared to find new solutions to meet patient demand and find experienced nurses ready to take on the task of quality patient care.

Emphasis on Nurse Well-Being

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the mental and physical toll that it takes to be a healthcare professional. Healthcare organizations should prioritize measures such as providing mental health resources, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a supportive work environment, especially for new nursing students entering the nursing profession. By investing in the well-being of nurses, organizations can enhance job satisfaction, improve retention rates, and mitigate burnout risks.

Focus on Diversity and Inclusion 

Healthcare organizations must recognize the value of diverse perspectives and cultural competency in delivering patient-centered care, as diversity and inclusion have become important within the nursing workforce. A prioritization to promote diversity in nursing education, recruitment, and leadership positions can foster a workforce that reflects the communities being served and improve patient care quality. 

Avant Healthcare Professionals focuses on the appropriate staffing of international healthcare professionals in facilities, helping enhance diversity and inclusivity and creating a healthy work environment for many hospitals. 

Technological Advancements in Staffing

The adoption of technology in nurse staffing is likely to witness significant advancements in 2022. Healthcare facilities should take advantage of the increasingly available tools that leverage data analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation to optimize nurse scheduling, streamline workflows, and predict staffing needs. Technology integration can enhance efficiency, improve resource allocation, and improve patient outcomes. However, successfully implementing these technologies will require ongoing training and support to ensure nurses can adapt and leverage them effectively to deliver patient safety.

Focus on Professional Development and Education

As the future of nurse staffing continues to evolve, we will see a heightened focus on professional development and education opportunities in the nursing practice. Many hospitals should invest in ongoing training programs, continuing education, and mentorship initiatives to enhance nurses' clinical skills, leadership capabilities, and specialization in emerging healthcare areas. Hospitals can foster job satisfaction, improve retention rates, and cultivate highly skilled and adaptable nurses by supporting nurses' professional growth.

Integrate International Nurses

Many healthcare experts have shared that it would take years before nursing education programs have the necessary resources and make the proper changes to accommodate new nurses. CNOs and nurse leaders will need to learn how to make the most of the nurses who are currently working or past nurses who have taken a break from the profession. They could also look to international nurses to alleviate the nursing shortage as a long-term solution. International nurses can provide stability for a healthcare facility to improve the retention of the current staff by adding diversity to the staff and helping bridge the gap between new nursing students and those retiring. 

Hospitals in the future can partner with healthcare staffing agencies such as Avant Healthcare Professionals, who hire international nurses to work within hospitals across the United States. These experienced nurses can help hospitals reduce their nurse staffing issues, reduce stress, and receive quality patient care that leads to exceptional patient outcomes. International nurses are a long-term solution as most international nurses stay at their facility for three years and usually convert to full-time nurses.

The Bottom Line

Current and future nursing leadership has extreme challenges they will have to face with nurse staffing in 2022. They will set the tone for the future of nurse staffing and need to make decisions that benefit their staff and the hospital. The biggest challenge to nurse staffing is the lack of experienced nurses, high nurse turnover, and the inability to retain current staff. Nurse turnover will continue to affect the state of nurse staffing in the future if nurse administrators do not make the necessary changes to recruit and retain staff.

The state of nurse staffing in 2022 will depend on healthcare executives being open to outside solutions and finding better avenues to support their staff. Becker's Healthcare recently shared nine investments made by hospitals for employee retention and recruitment. These innovative solutions are only a small part of a hospital's recruitment and retention strategy to combat the nursing shortage. CNOs must determine what solutions will best fit their hospital and ensure it is for the benefit of the hospital and its staff so they can portray such positive outcomes.

About Avant Healthcare Professionals

Need nurses? Avant Healthcare Professionals is the premier staffing specialist for internationally educated registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Avant has placed thousands of international healthcare professionals across U.S. facilities to help improve the continuity of their care, fill hard-to-find specialties, and increase patient satisfaction, revenue and HCAHPS scores. Avant is a Joint Commission accredited staffing agency and founding member of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment (AAIHR). Avant Healthcare Professionals is a member of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies.


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Avant Healthcare Professionals is a member of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies.