In general, people are living longer but they also suffer from a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, environmental factors, and the like. As a result, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are in high demand across the nation. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for these workers is projected to grow 18 percent by 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Meeting this additional need would add an estimated 2.4 million new jobs. Government agencies, higher education institutions, and healthcare executives must partner now to ensure that the quality of patient care won’t be negatively impacted. The bottom line closer to home? We need more healthcare professionals in Missouri.
There are many reasons why healthcare professionals in Missouri are in short supply, including:
- Many currently working in the field are approaching retirement age.
- Some high-stress jobs cause workers to burn out and leave the profession early.
- Positions in rural areas are particularly hard to fill because of the lack of available amenities and social/cultural opportunities.
Another reason for the lack of healthcare professionals is pay.
OneMissouri selected 42 healthcare specialty areas and looked at their salaries in relation to the education required for each:
Combatting the Shortage: Steps to Consider
Given the supply and demand challenges our state faces, it will require an “all hands on deck” approach to ensure that Missourians have access to qualified healthcare professionals regardless where they live. For example:
- Colleges and universities should partner with elementary, middle, and high schools. Faculty could work together to create programs designed to introduce students to healthcare professions. Teachers and curriculum directors should develop a sequence of content and learning experiences across grade levels. Teachers and professors can plan field trips at key intervals. School leaders could build a database of speakers and presenters, and semester-long internships could be arranged during the 12th grade. Local chambers of commerce could dedicate scholarship funds to high school graduates committed to practicing in state shortage areas.
- Healthcare associations could partner in developing counseling, support, and mentoring programs for healthcare professionals to help them deal with stress. Counties or regions could establish networks that provide varying levels of support as needed.
- Healthcare associations, universities, local chambers of commerce, and civic groups could partner to enhance available amenities and social/cultural opportunities for healthcare professionals who choose to practice in rural areas.
One Missouri is committed to research, education, advocacy, and policy development on behalf of all Missourians.
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