A study published in JAMA Health Forum by Karen Shen, Ph.D., and colleagues from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that the pandemic led to an increased turnover in the healthcare workforce. The exit rate for healthcare workers increased from a mean of 5.9 percentage points to 8.0 percentage points in the first quarter of 2020, and remained higher than baseline levels through the end of 2021. Notably, the majority of workers initially left for nonemployment, but by the end of 2021, more were exiting to employment in non-healthcare sectors.
Increased Turnover in Health Care Workforce Post-Pandemic
Post-pandemic, there has been a significant increase in turnover within the health care workforce according to a study published in the JAMA Health Forum.
The study, led by Karen Shen, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, utilized U.S. Census Bureau state unemployment insurance data to analyze the amount of workers both exiting and entering the health care sector before and after COVID-19 pandemic.
Results indicate that in the first quarter of 2020, approximately 18.8 million people were employed within the health care sector. With the onset of the pandemic, the rate of health care workers exiting the sector surged from a baseline of 5.9% to 8% in 2018 and Q1 of 2020 respectively. This elevated exit rate persisted into Q4 of 2021, with the health care exit rate noted at 7.7% higher than the 2018 baseline.
Further analysis revealed that the spike in health care worker exit rates was primarily due to an increase in workers leaving for nonemployment in Q1 of 2020, a rise of 78% against the baseline. However, by Q4 of 2021, the trend had shifted, with the exit rate now dominated by workers transitioning to employment outside health care sector, recording a 38% increase.
The post-pandemic period also saw increased entry rates into health care, suggesting higher turnover rates among the staff. According to the authors, these findings highlight a need for policy initiatives addressing health care worker burnout and to improve hiring processes within the sector.
For further details, refer to Karen Shen et al, Job Flows Into and Out of Health Care Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic, JAMA Health Forum (2024). DOI: 10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.4964