The WHA 2020 Health Care Workforce Report includes a detailed analysis of the pipeline of workers in a broad range of health care subspecialties. Entry-level positions like nursing assistants, practical nurses and technicians registered some of the highest vacancy rates. Advanced practice clinicians also saw high vacancy levels.

COVID-19, the report notes, magnified the impact of these shortages.

The new report draws attention to an increasing need to deliver health care services to an aging population. That same demographic trend increases the risk of a disproportionate number of retirements among health care workers relative to new people entering the field.

This dual pressure on the state’s health care workforce has a name reflective of the concern it is creating within the industry: the “Silver Tsunami.”

“Wisconsin’s health care quality isn’t just happenstance,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “It requires a dedicated and skilled workforce, smart use of technology and regulatory and licensing reforms that help us make the best and safest use of both.”

Ann Zenk, WHA senior vice president of workforce and clinical practice, warned the state’s health care workforce must grow, but with a shrinking supply of workers, it cannot grow fast enough to keep up with growing demand.

Based upon the report’s findings, WHA recommends health care organizations, educators and lawmakers pursue strategies to support the state’s health care workforce. These strategies include building public-private partnerships to grow Wisconsin’s health care workforce within the state and accepting and utilizing telemedicine and technology.

WHA also asks for reducing regulatory burden, increasing regulatory flexibility and addressing outdated laws that do not recognize current licensed scopes of practice. For example, multiple statutes and rules specify that a “physician” must do a care activity even though the scope of a licensed nurse practitioner or physician assistant includes the activity.

See the report: