Hawaii’s need for healthcare professionals has grown by 76% over the past 3 years


Shane Ersland


A new report shows that there are almost 4,000 openings for various healthcare jobs throughout Hawaii. The report shows many openings for registered specialty nurses, CNAs, medical assistants, LPNs, and social workers.


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The Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) released the report on Wednesday. It states that Hawaii’s need for healthcare professionals has grown by 76% in the past 3 years. There were 2,200 job openings in 2019, compared to 3,873 openings in 2022. 

Healthcare employees reported 3,873 job openings this year within 89 patient-facing job roles for an average job vacancy rate of 17%, compared to a 10% vacancy rate reported in the HAH’s 2019 inaugural report. The job turnover rate climbed to 20%, up from 16% in 2019. The average length of time to fill open positions is 6 to 12 months, which was the same amount of time needed to fill roles reported in 2019.

The report was originally scheduled to be released in 2021, but its release was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It showed that Hawaii’s smallest islands, including Lanai and Molokai, have the highest percentage of job vacancies.

The registered specialty nurse profession has the greatest need, according to the report. It showed that the state has 999 job openings for that role, representing a 116% increase since 2019. The state also has job openings for 744 CNAs (a 78% increase from 2019), 278 openings for medical assistants (a 162% increase from 2019), 211 openings for LPNs (a 47% increase since 2019), and 126 openings for social workers (a 110% increase from 2019).

The report showed 320 total openings for entry-level positionsincluding personal care assistants, phlebotomists, and patient service representativeswith personal care assistants topping that list with the state needing to fill 181 openings in that category.

Hawaii has many training gaps for nurse aides, LPNs, and phlebotomists as well. Many of the state’s training programs are only offered on the island of Oahu, according to the report, which stated a need to establish more college and high school training programs on neighboring islands. 

Carl Hinson, Director of Workforce Development at Hawaii Pacific Health, said employers are using evidence-based strategies to bolster the workforce, including growing the entry-level health certification pipeline and removing training barriers to create clear paths to careers.

“About 50% of Hawaii’s public high school graduates do not go to college immediately after graduation,” Hinson said in a press release. “So we’ve been making significant investments in ways for these high school students to train for living-wage salary jobs offered to them immediately upon graduation.

The earn-and-learn programs allow employees to schedule training around their current job schedules. Once training is complete, they enter healthcare jobs, often with higher wages. These types of employer-driven training programs and academies help reduce barriers to healthcare education and make it easier for young adults to transition into healthcare careers in their own communities.”

The upcoming 2023 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference will feature a panel titled “Strategies to meet Hawaii’s workforce needs,” during which leading state experts will discuss ways stakeholders can take action to support the struggling healthcare workforce. You can register to attend the conference in Oahu on Jan. 11th if you haven’t already!