The Disrupted Workforce: Healthcare Shortages

02/28/20   |  
LeeAnn Sherman

One of the most profound topics for discussion today is the shortages within our workforce. More specifically, talent shortages in the healthcare industry with job displacement. Our patient care has been declining as advanced practices are suffering among these shortages. Our healthcare systems must make a shift to maintain a healthy society with a strong economy. The current landscape of workforce disruptions raises the question of the future of qualified skilled nurses and doctors to tend to a rapidly growing population.

According to the World Economic Forum on the Global Risks Report 2020 (n.d.), "Good health is the foundation for societal well-being and a dynamic and prosperous economy. Health systems form part of countries' critical infrastructure: they are vital to security, resilience, and growth. At the population level, health underpins productivity. Well-functioning health systems enable countries to respond to and recover from natural and human-made disruptions" (p. 79, para. 4). The United States is amid a healthcare shortage that is expected to increase through 2032, which could devastate our long-term care system for patients and their families. 

“However, strained health systems are leading to worrying trends. Gains in lifespan and healthspan (the number of years spent in good health) seem to be slowing in both developed and developing countries. For example, recent data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that US life expectancy declined in 2017 for the third year in a row, the longest sustained drop for a century—since the combined effects of World War I and a global influenza pandemic. In Singapore, although life expectancy has increased since 1990, people are spending more of their lives in sickness. Disparities in health outcomes persist within and across countries” (World Economic Forum, n.d., p. 74, para. 3). These challenges create the platform for improvement for universities and Online Program Management ("OPM") companies to join forces for career-relevant programs such as nurse practitioners: midwifery, neonatal, and family practitioner. Additionally, the need for programs within the mental health sector such as social workers is in high demand.

The American Association of Medical Colleges stated that by 2032 the primary care/specialty care shortage could grow to over 122,000 physicians. Moreover, the nursing shortage reflects that 50.9% of the current workforce is over the age of 50, and 1 million R.N. 's will be retired by 2030 (American Association of Medical Colleges, 2019). The patient demand for prompt healthcare is at an all-time high as a result of the growing and aging population –specifically in rural America. 

These shortages will impact American's long-term well-being as it is known to take over 15 years to train a doctor, six years to train a physician assistant and 1-5 years to train a nurse. The disparity in numbers will result in more Americans traveling longer distances to find proper care for their families. The shortages in university faculty members hired as an assistant or associate professor with nursing, M.D., or equivalent degrees in clinical sciences are impacting these shortages. Although, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 28% job growth rate for nurse practitioners within the next eight years, which is much higher than the average for most careers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). These figures indicate that demand for nurse practitioners continues to grow.

While viewing these disproportions on a national level, many educators and associations are creating incentive programs to help address the shortage. For example, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has worked closely with policymakers, nursing organizations, and legislators to advocate for more in-depth strategies to support the nursing profession, Healthcare workers and job satisfaction.

The healthcare workforce has experienced tremendous deficiencies. According to the World Economic Forum on the Global Risks Report 2020 (n.d.), "Most health systems are training and retaining too few doctors, nurses, and other health workers. For example, the U.K. National Health Service has an estimated 94,000 unfilled vacancies in hospital and community services— almost 8% of its total workforce—and risks an exodus due to burnout and low morale. Disparities persist across countries, regions, care levels, and areas of medicine. Nearly half of the world's population lives in countries with over 100,000 people for every psychiatrist. Even in the United States, with 10.8 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, almost half of those currently practicing are expected to retire soon. The brain drain of health workers places further strain on poorer and rural parts of the world" (p. 78, para. 1). We are left with an intense pursuit to educate potential nurses, our current registered nurses, and advance our educational systems.

Additionally, more OPM teams, such as Keypath Education, are curating nursing specialty programs designed to meet the needs of students attracted to nursing schools and nursing careers. Whether the program is intended to be a Master of Science with a specific nursing focus or a degree that builds off a current skill set, these master's degrees are designed and delivered career paths created for the clinical nursing field. These career-relevant nursing degrees are becoming critical for the future of work trends and helping to solve these health care challenges.   

The collaborative efforts of these OPM management nursing programs should move the needle (no pun intended) towards the resolution of these shortages within healthcare and all talent workforce disruptions. It is never too late to consider a career change, going back to school to advance your skillset, and to prepare yourself for the future of work trends. As we conclude this discussion about the disrupted workforce within the healthcare sector, it is important to contribute to the solution of the problem to make a difference in this world. For more information on the OPM process, please feel free to get in touch with us at


Jaret, P. (2020). Attracting the next generation of physicians to rural medicine. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2010). Nursing shortages. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

American Association of Medical Colleges. (2019). New findings confirm predictions on physician shortage. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

World Economic Forum. (n.d.). The global risks report 2020. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from