Region faces shortage of science workers;
A report warns that hospitals, biotechs, and drug companies won't be able to fill the 45,000 jobs created by 2008.
Copyright 2002 The Philadelphia Inquirer
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The Philadelphia Inquirer...03/07/2002
Linda Loyd Inquirer Staff Writer
The life-sciences and health-care professions in the Philadelphia region are expected to create 45,000 jobs by 2008, according to a new report sponsored by a local hospital organization.
But the report says that there is already a shortage of workers in some health-service fields and that employers will need to find ways to recruit and attract more workers to an industry that currently employs more than 250,000 people in the Philadelphia region.
The Delaware Valley Healthcare Council will release the statistics today at a symposium where hospital executives, government officials and others will discuss how to recruit, train and keep personnel critical to the health of the Philadelphia area's residents and economy.
"The economic future of the Philadelphia metropolitan area depends on harnessing the life sciences for regional economic development," said Andrew Wigglesworth, president of the council, whose members are 150 health-care organizations.
The new report comes less than a month after Greater Philadelphia First issued its own study listing the pros and cons of the regional economy in an effort to spur investment in the life-sciences and other knowledge industries.
Employment in the life sciences - including hospitals, health insurers, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies - has doubled in the last 25 years and represents more than 14 percent of the total workforce in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania suburbs and South Jersey, according to the Healthcare Council report, which was prepared by Temple University's Fox School of Business and Management.
The report cites existing shortages in nurses, pharmacists and technical fields, such as laboratory, imaging and radiation therapy. Authors David Barton Smith and William Aaronson from Temple predict the region will need to recruit 83,110 workers for new life-sciences jobs and to replace workers who will retire by 2008.
Participants in today's symposium at the Adam's Mark Hotel are expected to address efforts to avert a projected labor shortfall in the next decade.
The shortage in health-services workers is a national problem, as fewer people opt for careers in health-related fields for many reasons, including the hours, shift work and demands of the job. Locally, a shortage of 669 registered nurses in 2001 is expected to grow to 3,158 by 2008, the report says.
"Nurses feel very stressed. Hospital stays used to be 12 days. Now they are 4.7," Paul Brucker, president of Thomas Jefferson University, said. "With hospitals cutting back staff, and asking people to do more, that has been tremendously challenging for the nursing profession."
According to the report, women made up 46 percent of new medical school students in 2000-01. As job opportunities for women have expanded, the report said health-service careers have faced the same "gender gap shortages" as other traditionally female careers, such as elementary school teachers and secretaries.
The report lists 26 life-sciences and health-care jobs as "high-demand" occupations, including lab technicians, radiological technologists, pharmacists, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing aides and home-health aides.
The report said "high-growth" occupations - those increasing 35 percent or more by 2008 - include: dental hygienists, medical-records specialists, health-information technicians, dental and medical assistants and home-health aides.
Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mar 9, '02
<They want to offer us CHILD CARE/DAY CARE services on site and truly think that will attact current nurses to come bak to work. >
<<I'm sorry, but that's a huge incentive for me. I'd work full time at a hospital that offered me that in a heart beat.>
I know. Its good for some nurses. But the majority of nurses are in their 40's & there are hundreds of thousands of us already licensed but who will not work in hospitals today. Those nurses can be a ready made pool to draw from if the hospitals played their cards right. But offering us something we dont need is not going to get us to come back. If they want to end the current "shortage", they need to make the place one we want to work in & also offer us something we can use.
By offering baby care as a way to entice some of the hundreds of thousands 40something-yr-old nurses to come back to work for a few more years either just goes to show how blind-sighted our administrators still are or that they are saying they dont want to have anything to do with those experienced nurses who are demanding improvements in the job. It seems they would rather keep things as they are, ignore this whole pool of nurses & go for the inexperienced younger ones who may not be so insistent.
(and who cost less).
A lot of the employers headaches (and costs) would be over if they got us out of the way. If thats not their plan, then I cant explain their continued refusal to make the job attractive for nurses who are already out there at the same time they keep crying that they cant find nurses.
Last edit by -jt on Mar 9, '02