As the economy begins to recover and businesses start to reopen or transition back to the office, our country has found itself in the middle of an unprecedented labor shortage. Organizations across the United States are struggling to fill gaps within their workforce, and while all industries are experiencing the effects of this shortage, health care has been hit particularly hard due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To alleviate stress on our team members, Indiana University Health and many other Hoosier health care systems have employed several short-term initiatives to address their clinical labor shortage. At IU Health, these include hiring travel nurses, increasing compensation and bonuses to retain and recruit clinical talent, and our “I CAN HELP” program, which provides those who don’t traditionally work on the hospital floor with the opportunity to lend an extra set of hands in areas of need in our hospitals.
Though these measures are proving effective at solving the problems we’re facing in this current moment, they don’t address the root causes of this problem. To prevent future labor shortages, we must invest today in building Indiana’s talent pipeline.
One of several ways IU Health is investing in the future of the health care professions in Indiana is through Junior Achievement of Central Indiana’s (JACI) JA JobSpark virtual career expo. In September, our team joined various industry leaders from across Central Indiana to inspire 10,000 eighth graders as they explored potential career options before they transition into high school. This jumpstart on career exploration is not only vital to the students themselves but also instrumental in strengthening the future local workforce.
With an IU Health employee serving as co-chair of the Health and Life Sciences cluster and many other team members volunteering at the event, we were able introduce students to what the health care professions have to offer, from numerous clinical occupations to administrative and management roles as well. JACI also works with businesses in the area to educate students on eight different industry clusters, highlighting the benefits of living and working locally.
IU Health is also investing in members of its own team and surrounding communities through initiatives operated by our Mosaic Center for Life, Work and Learning, which provides individualized career services to help participants from local neighborhoods chart pathways to meaningful careers at IU Health and beyond.
Additionally, IU Health is reaching high schoolers through a first-of-its-kind workforce development program in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools and Crispus Attucks High School. Students who complete the health care fellowship pathway will receive training and a job offer from IU Health, along with tuition assistance to complete a related post-secondary degree.
If future labor shortages are to be prevented, organizations across Indiana like JACI and IU Health must work together to invest in local students, our own employees and our broader communities. If we, as businesses, provide resources and rationale for our future workforce to pursue their passions locally, Indiana will be a healthier and more prosperous state.
Dennis Murphy is president and CEO at Indiana University Health.