Missouri Hospital Workforce Vacancy Turnover Rates Volatile

A newly released report from the Missouri Hospital Association finds that the state’s hospital workforce vacancy and turnover rates are volatile, with significant variation regionally among the surveyed professions. The report underscores the need for targeted, local investment by all stakeholders, including policymakers and those who educate and employ health professionals.

“Health care jobs are in demand,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “A variety of factors are leading to high vacancy and turnover rates regionally and statewide. To stabilize the workforce, a concerted effort on the part of stakeholders, at the state, regional and local level, will be required.”

Last year, hospital workforce data suggested progress toward a supply and demand equilibrium. This year’s report indicates a return to volatility. No singular cause is likely to be driving increased rates of vacancy and turnover. Conversely, various external factors seem to be influencing worker entry, exit and mobility within the workforce simultaneously. Some of these factors include an aging workforce, an aging population, a higher rate of chronic health conditions and an increase in the insured.

Three of the top six professions for turnover are in the nursing field, including two registered nurse professions. The two highest turnover professions are unlicensed assistive personnel at 32.6 percent and licensed practical nurse, non-IV certified at 20.4 percent.

“Although a return to a more volatile talent pool isn’t good news for hospitals, it is representative of a labor market with high demand for workers,” Kuhn said. “And, there was good news for hospitals and health care in that the vacancy and turnover rates for nurse practitioners remained relatively stable and the rates for physician assistants dropped significantly. These physician extenders are vital to expanded delivery of primary care services.”

In Missouri, approximately 44 percent of the advanced practice registered nurse workforce is age 50 or older. Among the R.N. workforce, 42 percent are age 50 or older. It is estimated that nearly half of nurses over the age of 50 plan on retiring in 10 years.

Based on the increases in vacancies and turnover, it appears that health professionals who were once deferring retirement or switching from part-time to full-time employment as a result of the economic downturn are beginning to retire.

A total of 151 hospitals participated in this year’s survey: 135 in Missouri, nine in Kansas and seven in Illinois. The survey requested data on 36 health care positions. In 2014, one new hospital position and five new health care positions in clinic and physician practices were added to the survey.

The statewide report and reports for the 10 workforce investment areas are available here.