Idaho Business for Education (IBE) today is releasing a report on the worker shortage that is negatively impacting health care systems across the state. The report is a follow up to a summit IBE held in June which examined ways to address the problem.
The half-day summit, officially called the IBE Health Care Summit: Solving the Worker Crisis, was held on the campus of Boise State University. It was attended by leaders in both the health care system and the educational system which prepares students to enter the health care professions. Governor Brad Little was the summit’s opening speaker.
“This report explains why we have a worker shortage, the depth of that shortage and recommends ways we can address it,” said Rod Gramer, president of Idaho Business for Education. “But most importantly the report shows that it can be solved if we have the will to act.”
“Solving the worker shortage will require leaders in the private and public sector working together on policies and investments that increase the number of people entering health care professions and creating a working environment that encourages them to stay in the profession,” said Gramer
One of the key recommendations in the report is having a working group comprised of leaders in health care and education take the recommendations and get them implemented. “It would be tragic if we do not take the good work of the summit participants and let their recommendations languish on a shelf,” Gramer said.
In June, just before the summit’s convening, Idaho had 9,000 health care jobs it could not fill. Number one on that list was a shortage of registered nurses – some 1,600 openings.
One of Idaho’s largest health care systems had 2,000 openings. One of the state’s largest stand-alone hospitals had 700 openings – 400 of them were for nurses. Idaho hospitals are relying on “traveling” nurses who contract with the hospital to fill staffing gaps.
The June summit was co-sponsored by WWAMI, Idaho’s medical school which is in partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine and Project Echo which empowers health care professionals to treat complex diseases with specialist-level expertise no matter where they practice. WWAMI and Project Echo are based at the University of Idaho