The Healthcare industry is facing an unprecedented series of challenges impacting its workforce. The situation continues to grow more complex each year. In a new monthly series, the OPA Staffing team will share its ongoing research to assist its clients and employees navigate these challenges. 


The U.S. Labor Department recently reported that as of November 2021, Inflation rose 6.8% from a year ago – its fastest pace since 1982. Some of the most startling contributors included:

  • An annualized increase in gasoline prices to 58.1% from over a year ago
  • Energy prices have risen 33.3%
  • Used car and truck prices exploded up to a 31.4% increase
  • Food prices jumping 6.1% over the year

Nationally, gross pay has increased 4.8% over the past year, however, due to the erosion of this severe inflation, real average hourly earnings declined 1.9% for the 12-month period, the Labor Department reported in a separate release.

Specifically for caregiving, the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service, reported 2021 wage increases ranging from 3.1% – 7.1% across a variety of roles and health care settings – equally eroding real average earnings.

The Pandemic

To say that the healthcare workforce is sick, tired, and burned out is a gross understatement. There are a myriad of reports publicly available that detail the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers. For example, according to a recent survey by Morning Consult, a private data intelligence company, approximately 1 in 5 healthcare workers in the US — or around 18 percent — have quit their jobs since February 2020. Additionally, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 3 in 10 U.S. healthcare workers were considering leaving their profession while 6 in 10 said that stress from the pandemic had harmed their mental health.


Over the past months, thousands of healthcare employers announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements for staff and clinicians as a condition of employment in accordance with Federal and independent state mandates. While it was initially feared that these requirements would exacerbate an accelerating workforce crisis, current reports indicate that the impact has been limited. Fierce Healthcare has begun maintaining a list of hospital reports here.

Labor Shortages

The news has been full of headlines for the past several months referencing the “Great Resignation” as employers face the tightest labor market in recent history. While turnover rates and gap reports vary dramatically by role and health care setting, they all share a common trait – rates are increasing year over year.

For example, in another recent report by the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service: “Turnover for CNAs in Nursing Homes increased significantly to 51.38%, as compared to the 2020 turnover rate of 39.38%. The national turnover rate for all employees was 38.68%, up from the 2020 rate of 35.36%.”

The Impact to Medical Staffing in 2022

As we begin 2022, we must be cognizant of the pressures that 2021 has placed on us as described above:

  • Eroding earnings due to inflation
  • The physical and emotional impacts of the ongoing pandemic
  • Accelerating turnover rates and increasing competitiveness to attract and retain staff

Both Healthcare Providers and Staffing Agencies are exploring a myriad of options to address these ongoing situations including:

  • Higher wage increases than previous years
  • Increased sign-on and retention bonuses
  • Expanded retention programs such as career development and professional flexibility

To demonstrate, in a recent nursing study by healthcare staffing firm Cross Country Healthcare Inc. and Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing:

  • 97% of respondents agreed that increasing pay rates and other incentives would attract and retain more nurses. 
  • 85% believed cross-training must be improved to respond to crisis events. 
  • Another 85% said a multistate license for nurses would have greatly benefited the country during the pandemic