Health Care Worker Supply and Demand: Mostly Well Balanced in Cincinnati

Vacancy rates overall at a five year low, while Registered Nurse, Medical Assistant, and Surgical Technician are “hot jobs”

doctor-563428_640Health care facilities are having an easier time meeting their staffing needs, according to a recent report by The Health Collaborative.  Workforce supply and demand is reasonably balanced as indicated by an overall vacancy rate of only 4.2 percent for full-time health care positions. That’s down slightly from 4.4 percent in 2013 and the lowest vacancy rate recorded in five years. The low vacancy rate is occurring even as the number of people retiring from careers in health care has increased.

“Health systems are continuing to experience some moderate job growth in our market, but growth is not as high as it was from 2011 to 2012 when the economy accelerated its rebound from the recession,” said Jason Bubenhofer, Manager of Business Intelligence at The Health Collaborative. “However, certain positions and sectors are starting to see some increased demand within the last year.”

According to the survey, there are several “hot jobs.” Certified Medical Assistants at physician practice locations and Certified Surgical Technicians at hospital locations had the two highest vacancy rates of all positions measured at 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Registered nursing positons saw an increased vacancy rate at 5.9 percent, up from 4.3 percent in 2013.

The Greater Cincinnati Health Care Workforce Report surveys regional hospitals to identify key workforce data such as employee vacancy rates, retirement rates and age distributions for 34 key hospital positions and eight key positions within physician practices. The report, produced annually, is designed to help hospitals, physician practices, health care leaders and recruiters better align with schools and prospective health care students to address the needs of area hospitals and other health care providers.

The survey captured a total of 50,942 employees (44,679 full-time equivalent positions) across regional hospitals, physician practices, and other health care organization positions.  Positions captured in the survey represent a wide variety of departments within the health care workforce, including: home health, laboratory, health information, nursing, patient care, pharmacy, radiology, therapy, and physician practice, as well as administrative support, food service, and maintenance.

Data was voluntarily submitted to The Health Collaborative by participating hospitals and hospital systems. It included vacancy data and workforce age data effective Dec. 31, 2014, and retirement data effective Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2014. Participants in the study include: The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, CMH Regional Health System/Clinton Memorial Hospital, Dearborn County Hospital, Fayette County Memorial Hospital, Hoxworth Blood Center, Mercy Health, St. Elizabeth Health Care, TriHealth and UC Health.

Key Findings:

Demand for Registered Nurses is growing

The 5.9 percent vacancy rate for Registered Nurses at hospitals is the highest level in three years. While last year’s rate is still below its 25-year average of 7.9 percent, it is higher than its 10-year moving average of 5.4 percent.

The trends among hospital nurses captured by the Workforce Report underscore the findings of The Health Collaborative’s biannual nursing study released earlier this year, which found that Greater Cincinnati hospitals hired a record number of new nursing school graduates in 2014 to meet the increasing demand for nurses.

Overall vacancy rates are at their lowest level in five years

Survey results show a vacancy rate of 4.2 percent for full-time equivalent (FTE) total health care organization positions, which is down from last year’s rate of 4.4 percent.  Hospital-owned physician practice positions did see a vacancy rate increase to 4.9 percent in 2014, up from 4.0 percent in 2013, but that rate is still relatively low for historical standards.

Retirements increased in 2014, and the average retirement age holds steady at 65

The overall organizational retirement rate increased to 1.13 percent in 2014, up from 1.06 percent. It is the third time an annual retirement rate has been greater than 1 percent since The Health Collaborative began tracking retirements in 2009, and last year’s 1.13 percent rate represents the highest retirement rate measured to date. The average retirement rate for overall organization positions remained at 65 years of age, unchanged from 2013 data.

“We anticipate that retirements will continue to show steady increases over the next several years,” added Bubenhofer. “Nearly 34 percent of our total health system workforce is age 50 and older right now whereas that figure was only 30 percent in 2007.”

Retirement rates for Registered Nurses in the hospital setting increased to 1.0 percent in 2014, up from 0.9 percent in 2013, and the average retirement age for RNs was 64. Eight hospital positions had retirement rates greater than 2.0 percent, with Medical Transcriptionists (4.8 percent), Mammography Techs (3.8 percent) and Medical Records Technicians (3.8 percent) seeing the greatest portion of its workforce retiring.

More Coverage:

To read the July 2, 2015 Cincinnati Business Courier article on this subject, please click here.

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