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The Caring Support Blog

Managing Healthcare Staffing Shortages

June 29, 2024

The quality of patient care that nurses can provide is related to the proper execution of treatment plans and preventive measures to ensure that patient outcomes are optimal and patient safety is strictly observed. One significant factor that determines whether the best practices are observed for the execution of the responsibilities of nurses and other allied healthcare professionals is stress and burnout, which can then be worsened when not enough staff are working in a shift.

In this article, we’ll look into the factors contributing to the workforce shortage, explore strategies to alleviate the burden, and discuss how we can work together to build a more resilient and sustainable healthcare system.

Is There A Staffing Crisis in the Healthcare Workforce in Canada?

Canada has faced and is continuously facing a significant shortage of healthcare workers, and the problem is only expected to worsen in the coming years. This is especially following the aging population of Canada, leading to an increasing number of seniors requiring more healthcare services.

In fact, it was estimated that shortages may reach up to over 100,000 nurses in the year 2030, posing a serious problem in meeting the growing demand for healthcare services. More alarming still is the fact that staffing crisis is not limited to nurses; it extends across various healthcare professions, including physicians and other allied health professionals.

Factors Contributing to Workforce Shortage in Healthcare

The healthcare staffing shortage in Canada is a complex issue, with multiple factors contributing to the problem. Let’s explore some of the key drivers for such a shortage in the healthcare industry:

A list summarizing the factors contributing to workforce shortage in healthcare.

Retirement and High Turnover in the Healthcare Workforce

The healthcare workforce in Canada is diverse, comprising various professions and specializations, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, among others. Each healthcare profession is important for providing quality patient care, and a shortage of these professionals can greatly affect the healthcare system.

Sadly, many healthcare workers, particularly those in the baby boomer generation, are reaching retirement age. Additionally, the high-stress nature of healthcare work has led to increased burnout, early retirement, or high turnover most notably from healthcare professionals leaving healthcare and doing a career shift to other industries with relatively higher pay and better working conditions. These factors further contribute to the observed shortage of hospital workers and staff of other healthcare facilities.

How Education and Training are Provided

The capacity of educational institutions to train and produce new healthcare professionals has not kept pace with the growing demand.

Consequently, this limited slots make the admissions process for these programs highly competitive, with limited spaces available each year due to a shortage of healthcare workers willing to become educators. Even though there are many applicants that are as qualified and as passionate about pursuing a healthcare career, it’s still unfortunate that many are unable to secure a spot in these programs.

With this limited number of healthcare students going through enrollment in medical schools, nursing programs, and other healthcare-related programs, combined with the uncertainties in their completion because of the rigorous nature of healthcare programs in ensuring that competencies are properly met by students, it can be inevitable for health systems to have a short supply of new healthcare professionals.

Distribution In Terms of Location and Specialization

The distribution of healthcare professionals across Canada is uneven, with urban centres generally having a higher concentration of healthcare workers compared to rural areas and remote communities. This geographic maldistribution has created significant access challenges for many Canadians, particularly those living in underserved areas.

In terms of specialization, the healthcare workforce in Canada is highly specialized, with each profession having its own unique set of skills and expertise. This specialization is necessary to provide high-quality, comprehensive care to patients. However, it also means that the healthcare system relies on a delicate balance of different healthcare professionals, and a shortage in one area can have ripple effects across the entire system.

Working Conditions of the Healthcare Workforce

The healthcare workforce in Canada faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to working conditions. Healthcare professionals often work long hours, experience high levels of stress and burnout, and are exposed to various physical and emotional risks in their daily work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted and exacerbated these challenges, with many healthcare workers reporting increased workloads, limited access to personal protective equipment, and a heightened risk of contracting the virus. This has led to a significant number of healthcare professionals leaving the field, further contributing to the staffing shortage.

Budgetary Constraints

The healthcare system in Canada is largely publicly funded, with the government playing a significant role in determining the allocation of resources. Budgetary constraints and competing priorities within the healthcare system have made it challenging to invest in the necessary infrastructure, training programs, and workforce development initiatives to address the staffing shortage.

Limited funding has also impacted the ability of healthcare organizations to offer competitive compensation and benefits packages, making it difficult to attract and retain healthcare professionals, particularly in high-demand areas.

Strategies to Help Address the Healthcare Workforce Shortage in Canada

To address the healthcare staffing crisis in Canada, a multifaceted approach is necessary. These strategies can help us build a more resilient and sustainable healthcare workforce that is better equipped to meet the growing needs of the Canadian population. Here are some key strategies that can help address the healthcare workforce shortage in Canada:

Mitigate staffing crisis through streamlined healthcare recruitment process with Caring Support.

Streamlined Healthcare Recruitment Process With Caring Support

The healthcare staffing shortage in Canada is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires a comprehensive, collaborative approach. By understanding the factors contributing to the shortage, recognizing the composition and distribution of the healthcare workforce, and implementing targeted strategies to address the issue, we can work towards building a more resilient and sustainable healthcare system providing efficient and high-quality of care for all.

At Caring Support, we’re committed to helping maintain the Canadian healthcare system through comprehensive services focused on healthcare, from recruitment and networking to duty essentials to ensure quality care. If you work for a healthcare organization and handle human resources, contact us today to find out how partnering with us can improve your recruitment process and alleviate staffing shortages.

About The Author
Cam Adajar
Content Writer

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