Building back the healthcare workforce

Since the pandemic began, healthcare providers have scrambled to take on staffing issues while still maintaining quality care. It’s time to move forward strategically and build back a stronger, more agile workforce.

Nurses looking at tablet - HealthStream's Build back the workforceNurses looking at tablet - HealthStream's Build back the workforce


It is imperative to address the workforce recruitment and retention issues that have only accelerated during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the hurdles are impressive – hospital turnover increased overall in 2021 by 1.7% to 19.5%, with nursing turnover specifically increasing 2.8% to 18.7%.

Employee recruitment and retention is always a concern for healthcare, but current-day urgency has led to many stopgap measures that are expensive and not viable in the long term. Leaders must break the cycle and rethink how the workforce is recruited and retained before it is too late. Here are three issues that must be addressed to ensure a path to a competent, resilient staff. 

HealthStream custom illustration - Build Back the Workforce


A focus on rapid healthcare onboarding, without compromising quality/competence

Healthcare organizations have always faced the struggle of having to do more with less, all while maintaining the quality of care. In 2021, there was an average nursing vacancy rate of 10%, which has a tremendous impact on quality of care and outcomes. This is an unsustainable situation, one that most organizations have sought to remedy with “quick fixes,” such as filling the gaps with high-dollar traveling nurses and offering signing bonuses.

It is likely healthcare is looking at a new normal, one where they will need reliable strategies to combat ongoing high levels of turnover. Instead, the goal should be to move beyond reactive strategies and shift focus and energy to factors like new hire time-to-productivity.

Bridging the school-to-practice gap is a complex process, one that includes steps many organizations still perform manually, so the opportunity for optimization is great. But there are also opportunities to ensure that all healthcare employees, whether its new hires or those floating from other practice areas, receive rapid onboarding that addresses their individual need for training.

The goal should be to ensure that 100% of a nurse’s time learning is purposeful in order to improve the time to bedside, which will require a focus individualized learning paths, technology and peer networks, and standardization.


of nurses surveyed say they are experiencing a shortage of nurses.1


of nurses surveyed say they are concerned about burnout.2


More than 20% of nurses report they are leaving bedside care, or the profession entirely.3


Almost all nurses (91.5%) are worried about the current shortage of nurses.4

HealthStream custom illustration - Build Back the Workforce


A focus on healthcare business insights to inform decisions that maximize outcomes

The pandemic has created a level of change and uncertainty that is unprecedented in healthcare. High turnover – and the crisis management solutions that have been used to combat the issue – could lead to a risk tsunami that healthcare organizations will struggle to overcome for decades.

Fortunately, we know that success always follows informed decision making. Leaders who have data and insights necessary to make informed decisions will be able to navigate complex staffing problems while maintaining quality care and eliminating unnecessary risks.


The University of Louisville Hospital reduced the time spent managing assessment and development of nurses by 50% using HealthStream’s jane®.5


HealthStream customers using the Quality Obstetrics (OB) Program had 22% less “OB risk claims identifiers” versus all hospitals in the U.S. 6


Surveys indicated 65% of new graduate nurses with less than one year of experience would be interested in a digital mentor, like jane®.7


Swedish Covenant Health reduced their spend by $1.4 million in agency spend by implementing a non-monetary incentive program

HealthStream custom illustration - Build back the workforce


A focus on creating a culture of autonomy and engagement that demonstrates employer commitment

As the healthcare workforce expands and diversifies, the future of workforce development in healthcare will require solutions targeted to individual employee needs and expanded levels of support. From graduation to retirement, clinicians require continuous yet unique training opportunities, yet it can be difficult to provide a proper level of support with limited resources. Of course, this is difficult in most healthcare environments in the U.S., where resources are stretched and the average manager has 40 or more direct reports.

One of the key areas to focus on will be empowering staff with tools and resources that allow them to provide the best care possible, set their own learning path, and stay compliant. In fact, most clinicians desire autonomy – in a survey of over 25.6 million courses completed on the HealthStream platform, almost half were self-enrolled, and 65% of new graduate nurses indicated they would be interested in using a digital mentor system that facilitates learning recommendations.


of nurses surveyed feel the pandemic has made managers more attuned to the needs of nurses.9


of nurses surveyed feel supported by their direct manager.10


Two-thirds of leaders (66.3%) say they rely on recommendations from managers to identify employees with possible leadership skills.11


More than half of nurses indicate their employer has taken action to improve their well-being (54.7%). 12

Webinars related to building back the workforce

Building Back Your Workforce in Healthcare’s New Norm

2022 Annual Report on Medical Staff Credentialing

Content You Can Trust: Promoting Education, Supporting Leaders

A Nurse Walks into a Hospital: Rapid Onboarding with Jane®

Retention through Residency: Retain Top Talent with your Nurse Residency Program

What Next? Ensuring Safe, Quality Care During a Staffing Crisis

Can We Teach Critical Thinking?

Are We Headed Towards a Risk Tsunami?

Healthcare's Ten Trends for 2022

Chaos to Calm: An Onboarding Conversation with Prisma Health

Emerging through change together

Let’s continue the discussion. We would love to hear more about how you plan to navigate the changing landscape and take advantage of opportunities to build back your workforce. HealthStream can help you prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. If you would like to speak to one of our healthcare experts, please fill out the form and we will be in touch.

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