Addressing the Healthcare Worker Shortage in Iowa

Though many think that the worst is over, Americans— particularly those in Iowa— are facing another alarming health crisis: a shortage of healthcare workers.

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa is at the 45th spot among the states with balanced provider-to-patient ratios, and the state needs to produce as many as 160 doctors every year to address the needs of the population. Despite the need for healthcare workers, it’s reported that two out of ten physicians and four out of ten nurses will leave their current areas of practice by the end of this year.

Due to the growing exit of healthcare workers, rural hospitals are at risk of closing down. On top of that, Iowans will be at risk of experiencing worse health outcomes, which means it’s crucial to address the healthcare worker shortage as soon as possible.

What is Causing the Healthcare Worker Shortage in Iowa?

Hospitals in Iowa are finding it difficult to manage multiple vacancies in various staff positions. In spite of being Iowa’s largest hospital, the University of Iowa Health Care is looking to hire hundreds of workers in nursing, food service, housekeeping, maintenance, and more.

The CEO of the hospital stated that the number of people leaving the healthcare industry is rapidly increasing, mainly due to physical exhaustion, poor mental health, and lack of rest.

Several key factors affect the healthcare worker shortage across the state, and one of these factors is the high number of patients.

Healthcare workers have had to risk their lives while attending to record numbers of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past few years. On top of that, medical professionals also have to attend to the growing aging population and the increasing number of patients with chronic conditions.

Unfortunately, the shortage of hospital workers is taking a toll on current hospital staff that has to pick up extra shifts and take on more duties. The remaining healthcare workers have to increase their work responsibilities to attend to the high patient population— with little to no increases to their wages.

This is even more concerning given that the average healthcare worker in Iowa earns less than the average healthcare worker on a national scale. Unless immediate action is taken, the remaining workers on staff will get burnt out and repeat the same patterns.

How Can the Healthcare Worker Shortage Be Resolved?

  • Increase the Accessibility of Healthcare Through Telehealth

Certain hospitals in Iowa are hiring workers from other states to relieve their workforce. But instead of hiring healthcare workers outside the state, institutions can leverage remote opportunities for nurse practitioners in Iowa to provide primary and urgent care treatments for patients.

These opportunities increase the accessibility of healthcare to residents in rural or even urban Iowa while giving healthcare workers greater control over their work schedules.

Telehealth solutions can be empowering for providers and patients, and can help both parties save time and money, and reduce stress.

  • Improve the Educational Opportunities for Aspiring Workers

Apart from addressing the working conditions of healthcare workers, individuals also need to encourage students to pursue a career in the health industry.

As discussed previously, educators can promote the ‘7 Best Accelerated Nursing Programs in Iowa’ to motivate students and professionals to pursue a nursing career. Students can even opt for Allen College’s online RN-BSN nursing programs, so that they can enjoy greater flexibility while learning about nursing theory and practice.

Iowa has multiple accelerated programs for aspiring healthcare workers. Students can choose to go into flexible or even shortened educational programs, so that they can serve their communities as soon as possible.

  • Implement Government Regulations and Benefits

The World Bank recommends local governments establish wage regulations so that the healthcare workers can get properly compensated for their sacrifices. These regulations may include the implementation of overtime allowances, hazard allowances, and even performance pays.

The local government must also support paid leave benefits for healthcare workers. Given that these professionals work long hours, these paid leaves can ease up their schedules and drastically reduce their burnout.

It’s not easy to become a healthcare worker, which is why they deserve to have better career opportunities and working conditions. Supporting the healthcare workers of Iowa also supports Iowans, and it’s something that needs to be a priority.

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