22 Nursing and Healthcare Staffing Trends to Watch for in 2022

Healthcare Jobs

There’s no crystal ball for what the coming year will bring to hospitals and health care facilities. Who could have predicted what the last few years would bring?

A look at ongoing nursing and healthcare trends can give a good idea what to expect for the coming year. The COVID-19 pandemic will no doubt continue to dominate decisions. But the main themes of staffing shortages, increase in need for care, and health care facilities and individuals using technology and agile thinking to adapt to the changing healthcare world will continue. 

Here are 22 nursing and healthcare trends we can expect in 2022. 

1. Expect Nursing Shortages to Continue

One question many healthcare staffing professionals are asking is: “Will the nursing shortage increase?” Thanks to burnout, retirements, and an increase in need, you can expect to see the shortage in nurses increase. The trend started before COVID, with a 2018 report from the National Institutes of Health forecasting shortages of registered nurses in 2020 growing to more than a 510,000 RN gap by 2030. 

2. Expect a Disparity in Nursing to be Regional

The same NIH report predicted higher shortage ratios for nurses in the south and west of America when compared to the midwest and northeast. 

COVID has exacerbated that, with rural hospitals struggling to find nurses during the pandemic.

3. Meanwhile, the Need for Nurses Nationwide Will Grow

As fewer nurses are available, the number of nurses needed will increase. The number of registered nurses will grow by about 9 percent by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 194,500 openings per year for nurses are projected each year, the BLS adds.

4. An Aging Population Needs More Care

An increasing number of older people means a need for more health care workers to tend to them. As of 2020, the number of people 60 and older outnumbered people 5 and under, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO projects that trend to continue. By 2030 one in six people will be 60 or older, while the number of people 80 and over is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050. 

5. Home Health Care Will Increase

More people, especially senior citizens and people with disabilities, will turn to home health care instead of a hospital or nursing home. That means home health and personal care aides’ employment is expected to grow 33 percent in the next decade, with nearly 600,000 openings per year.

6. Bonuses and Pay Increases to Stay Will Be the Norm

With healthcare workers and facilities struggling to attract and retain workers, many are turning to pay bumps and bonuses to keep and attract new workers. Some hospitals are offering sign-on bonuses as high as $40,000 to experienced nurses who agree to a 2-year commitment.

7. Incentives to Pick Up Extra Shifts Will Be Common

In addition to hire-on incentives, hospitals and health care systems will likely continue to need to offer cash or other incentives to fill extra shifts. The United Nurses Associations of California reported incentives of up to $700 per additional shift.

8. Incentives Other than Cash Will Be Offered

Studies show that nurses remain loyal to their organizations, even in the face of stressful workloads, when given social and psychological rewards by their healthcare organizations. Some examples include praising employees publicly, treats, thank you cards, and simply taking the time to talk to employees as a human.

9. PRN Healthcare Jobs Will Be Big in Covering Gaps

As hospitals and healthcare facilities face staffing shortages, more will turn to PRN, or per diem, nurses and healthcare professionals to fill shifts.

10. Telehealth Care Will Continue to Increase

More people and healthcare facilities turned to telehealth as the COVID-19 pandemic rose. While the number of telehealth visits ebbed and flowed following the state of the pandemic and local access to broadband, the availability of telehealth exploded. The Centers for Disease Control found that 95% of health care centers reported using telehealth during the pandemic, compared to 43% before COVID-19.

11. Demand for Nurse Practitioners to Rise

The BLS expects a growth of 45 percent for nurse practitioners, midwives, and anesthetists over the coming decade. About 30,000 job openings are expected each year.

12. Locum Tenens Demand Likely to Increase

A physician shortage means that locum tenens medical professionals may see their demand for services continue to increase. Health systems facing revenue shortages as a result can fill the gap with locum tenens, so long as there’s an efficient process for billing.

13. Expect a Demand for Mental Health Specialists

The demand for mental health care workers is expected to boom with more than 510,000 vacancies expected by 2026. Most states will see shortages, though surpluses are expected in several states. 

14. Agile Staffing Will Be Critical

Healthcare systems will need to shift from the traditional nurse-to-patient staffing model to an agile model that allows healthcare systems to move team members where they’re needed most. A team of cross-trained nurses will allow for flexibility and greater responsiveness amidst any future health events or new variant waves. 

15. Watch for Trends in Top Healthcare Specialties Growth

The Association of American Medical Colleges released a report in 2020 on the fastest-growing medical specialties to find which healthcare specialties are on the rise. The five fastest-growing specialties were:

  • Sports Medicine
  • Pediatric Anesthesiology
  • Interventional Cardiology
  • Sports Medicine (orthopedic surgery, and
  • Vascular and interventional radiology

16. We’ll See a Decline in These Healthcare Specialties

  • The AAMC report also showed the fastest-declining medical specialties. Those are:
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Anatomic, Clinical Pathology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Thoracic Surgery, and
  • Preventative Medicine

17. Changing Healthcare Policies 

Ever-shifting political winds can introduce uncertainty as healthcare providers plan for the future. Administrators should keep an eye on Medicare, Medicaid, and long and short-term health policies.

18. The Affordable Care Act Means More Access to Health Care Services

The Affordable Care Act is now more than a decade old, but some of the effects are only now starting to ramp up. That includes opening the door to access for health care to millions of people through Medicaid expansion. That means more people are able to get health care as each year goes on.

19. A Continuing Embrace of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The pandemic shone a bright light on disparities in healthcare between ethnic groups, genders, and more. In response, many health systems emphasized Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. In 2022, health systems can work for success by critically assessing their institutional DEI framework.

20. Hiring Via Video Here to Stay

The hiring process across the world went from in-person to over the internet almost immediately in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes the healthcare industry. Remote interviews are likely to stay, for at least the first and second-round interviews.

21. Hiring Anywhere

Along with the video interviews comes the ability to hire anywhere. No longer are health systems bound to prospects living in their zip code. Nursing job apps, job boards, and other digital tools allow health care systems to reach candidates across the world.

22. Using Digital Tools to Aid in Staffing

Gone are the days of trawling through job candidates. Smart technology, like the NursaTM app can connect healthcare facilities and workers directly, matching the right person to the right job.

Written by Miranda Booher, RN

SEO Content Marketing Manager Miranda is a 14-year registered nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and digital marketing. She brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has an impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Bolivia, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her spending time with her family traveling in the Andes Mountains.

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