The COVID-19 pandemic affected every facet of our healthcare system, creating unprecedented challenges surrounding workforce needs. Even before the pandemic hit, healthcare leaders faced increasing concerns about filling key physician and nursing positions. In fact, J.P. Morgan’s Healthcare Industry Outlook report revealed 97% of senior healthcare executives were worried about provider shortages, with 35% listing it as one of their top 3 challenges. 

Staffing strategies employed by hospitals and healthcare facilities prior to the pandemic have undergone significant changes – with organizations forced to adapt to a continuously evolving and highly volatile climate. Here’s a look at how COVID-19 has impacted healthcare staffing. 

Healthcare Workers Grapple with Burnout

Nursing and physician burnout has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The shortage of available healthcare staff at the height of the breakout forced workers to work around the clock to treat infected patients. 

The increased exhaustion due to extra shifts, constant stress, and high patient volume from COVID-19 has prompted a massive spike in physician burnout. In fact, according to Medscape, approximately two-thirds of U.S. physicians said feelings of burnout have intensified since the onset of the pandemic. Another 46% said they’re also experiencing increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are facing a very harrowing reality: their retention numbers could potentially deteriorate overnight. 

To avoid compromising patient care and surge capacity, organizations will need to implement staffing strategies like succession planning for key roles while also leveraging healthcare recruitment experts to accommodate coverage gaps. Additionally, as the MHA states, it’s “more critical than ever for hospitals to incorporate thriving into their culture. Helping team members recharge, combat burnout, and enhance resiliency is essential for their well-being and for their ability to consistently provide the highest quality patient care.”

Healthcare Goes Digital

The adoption of telehealth practices has opened the doorway for patients to receive urgent, quality care almost instantaneously. The on-demand solution not only allows for earlier diagnosis and treatment, but it decreases wait times, readmission rates and allows medical facilities to recruit healthcare specialists outside their immediate geographic location. 

In addition to accessing a wider breadth of talent by offering virtual care, this transition to digital solutions provides organizations with an easier way to connect with potential hires. In lieu of costly in-person recruiting events or flying a candidate in for an interview, healthcare leaders can host virtual events and connect with recruits via video calls. Even onboarding can be tackled virtually, lending to a more streamlined recruitment process while effectively reducing time-to-fill ratios. 

Healthcare Systems Must Be Agile

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the need for healthcare leaders to embrace flexible staffing models. The unpredictability of our rapidly changing environment means innovation and swift decision-making must be embraced. Most of all, it requires a greater focus on optimizing the delivery of care and patient outcomes. 

By leveraging a healthcare recruitment firm like Polaris, staffing needs can be delegated to our team of experts, allowing your organization to concentrate on more high-level initiatives. From improving the patient experience to recouping lost revenue, contact us today to learn more about how our healthcare staffing solutions can help your facility.