The U.S. health care system relies on a strong and well-trained workforce to best serve patients and communities. Unfortunately, a significant and pervasive health care workforce shortage exists, especially in communities essential hospitals serve. Amid health care worker burnout, essential hospitals face significant staffing shortages as demand for care forces them to compete for staff with more financially stable systems serving less medically complex patients.

Provider shortages have the potential not only to affect patient care, but also to stretch staff’s mental health to the limits, exacerbating challenges to maintaining a healthy workforce at sufficient levels. To prevent a future provider shortage, an estimated additional 139,000 physicians and 1.1 million nurses will be needed by 2033. These shortages, coupled with a lack of health care staff diversity in many areas nationwide, have the potential to affect patient care. Given the urgency of these concerns, most recently highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, states have taken steps to protect and uplift their health care workforces while also increasing access to the health care workforce pipeline.


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