Health Care Organizations Struggle to Fill Positions

A surprisingly high number of health care jobs stay unfilled for at least six weeks, resulting in overworked staff, increased turnover and even mistakes in patient care.

A surprisingly high number of health care jobs stay unfilled for at least six weeks, resulting in overworked staff, increased turnover and even mistakes in patient care, according to a new survey.

A new CareerBuilder study of hiring managers and HR professionals for health care employers, found that extended vacancies negatively affect the organizations. Nearly half (48%) of nursing jobs will stay unfilled for at least six weeks, and 20% go unfilled for 12 weeks or longer. Plus, 39% of allied health jobs are unfilled for six weeks or longer, on average.

More than half (59%) of respondents cited at least one negative effect of vacancies. The biggest effect was that employee morale is lower because the staff is overworked, followed by patients get less attention, higher voluntary turnover, more mistakes in administration of care and (with just 4%) more lawsuits.

"The job market for health care positions continues to grow quickly in the rebounding economy, but filling key positions is far from easy," Jason Lovelace, president of CareerBuilder Healthcare, said in a statement.

One of the biggest barriers to filling health care positions, according to 42% of respondents, is that applicants have salary requirements that are too high. Another common response (40% of respondents) was that the applicants have less than three years of relevant experience.

The lack of experience is a big challenge when it comes to recruiting nurses. According to CareerBuilder, there has been a recent surge in graduation rates from nursing schools, but 24% of hiring managers said that they need to hire experienced nurses, not new graduates, and 22% said that they need nurses trained in a specialized area.

"Organizations are struggling to find a balance between bringing in new talent and hiring experienced industry veterans capable of stepping into stressful environments with little ramp-up time,” Lovelace said. “It's important, however, that health care leaders develop pathways for new graduates."