Nearly all Michigan healthcare occupations will experience workforce shortages in the next decade, according to a new report.
The Michigan Health Council (MHC) was awarded a grant by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to create the Solutions Net, which catalyzes data on healthcare workforce gaps into actionable solutions. The work includes creating a statewide healthcare workforce plan and identifying action steps to implement it.
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As a first step in creating the Solutions Net, MHC collected data regarding current and projected statewide healthcare workforce shortages. It created the Michigan Healthcare Workforce Index (MHWI) through that research. The MHWI is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive index that assesses the health of 36 healthcare occupations in the state.
Each occupation was ranked based on several metrics, including wages, likelihood for turnover, and projected growth. Key findings included:
- Nearly all occupations analyzed are projected to experience workforce shortages between now and 2032.
- Occupations that are not projected to experience statewide shortages still have distribution problems; many occupations are lacking presences in rural areas.
- The healthiest occupation for growth over the next 10 years will be nurse practitioners.
- The unhealthiest occupation for growth over the next 10 years will be dental assistants.
- Occupations with fewer education requirements beyond a high school diploma struggle to break out of the bottom third of the index’s total rankings due to low wages.
- Mental health occupations—ranging from community health workers to psychologists—face immense shortages and competitive wage challenges that raise concerns about the health of these occupations over the next decade.
Drew Murray, senior director of strategy and public affairs at MHC, said the council is working to collaborate with many different entities to create solutions to these workforce challenges at the 2023 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference in May.
“Right now, we see a lot of different initiatives spread across the state. We’ve found over 160 initiatives around workforce solutions. We’re trying to organize those right now, and create a statewide workforce plan.
It’s great to have a State of Reform conference where we have everyone together, but what happens when people go back to their offices and still want to collaborate? We’re trying to build that planning infrastructure, thanks in large part to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.”
The report also found that healthcare workers are currently disproportionately clustered in urban parts of the state, which leaves rural residents with fewer options for care.
Behavioral health occupations will be critical areas to focus on, as reports of anxiety and depressive disorders have increased, according to the MHWI. There has also been an increase in drug overdose death rates in the state.