The Nurse and Physician Shortage

AUGUST 09, 2016
David Alemian

By 2025, the US will be short 90,000 physicians and 500,000 nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2022 there will be over one million job openings for nurses because of growth and the need for replacements. 

Recently, there were more than 70,000 nursing student applications turned down because there aren’t enough teachers, classroom space, and clinical space to train them.

The current situation prevents us from training enough nurses to fill the void.

The nursing shortage is causing many currently working nurses to leave the profession because they are understaffed, overworked, and stressed.

Presently, there are about 500,000 licensed nurses who are not in the nursing workforce.  About 20% of them have been out of the workforce for too long and would need additional training before they could go back to work.

That leaves about 400,000 nurses who could return to the nursing workforce in a relatively short period of time. The question is how to incentivize this group of nurses to return to the workforce.

The average age of this group of nurses is 47 – it’s the age when most people become seriously concerned about ever being able to retire. Healthcare organizations should focus on using pension plans to attract and retain nurses.
The pension plan can work as a powerful magnet to draw a large portion of that group of 400,000 nurses back into the workforce. The vesting period would hold them there until they reach retirement age. 

The pension plans could also effectively keep the current workforce of nurses on the job. Moreover, the pension plans will also work to attract physicians. 

American Medical Association studies show that having enough money to retire is the top financial concern among all US physicians.

How do we pay for it?

Certain types of pension plans can be funded with special bank financing much the same way a healthcare organization makes any other financial investment. The special bank financing was designed specifically for this type of plan. It requires that the healthcare organization service only the interest portion of the loan. The principal then grows and compounds tax deferred within the pension plan. The plan itself then pays back the principal to the bank within 10 to 15 years. 

This technique is nothing new, and has been used for the past 30 years by very wealthy individuals to fund private retirements.

Let's take a lesson from history.

The Greatest Generation came back from World War II. Many then spent their entire careers working for the same company because they would get a lifetime pension. The companies enjoyed a full roster of employees with very little employee turnover.  

Pension plans are the most powerful recruiting and retention tool ever designed, and the only difference here is there is now a better way to fund the pensions. Healthcare organizations seeking relief from the nursing and physician shortage only need try the proven attraction and holding power of pensions.

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