Current Report Articles
President's Perspective – KHA Workforce Report Focuses on Challenges and Opportunities

Workforce Report (April 19, 2024) – The Kansas Hospital Association has published its annual Kansas Health Care Workforce Report. The report, shared with members during the recent district meetings, utilizes data gathered from various sources to illustrate the current pulse on health care workforce challenges in Kansas. KHA has developed talking points and template language for members to use when discussing workforce data, challenges and solutions.

The 2024 KHA Workforce Survey is the primary source of data, providing vacancy and turnover rates for 29 hospital-based and four clinic-based positions and highlighting those most in-demand positions statewide and regionally. With this information, we can gain a better understanding of the current workforce environment as well as what to expect in the future and, in turn, explain that to policymakers and the communities we serve. The data is designed to inform strategies for recruitment and retention to ensure Kansas hospitals have the capacity to support the health of their local communities.

This year, 110 Kansas hospitals participated in the survey, the highest participation in the last ten years. Thank you for your participation. It is important to note that statewide, turnover remains at record high levels while vacancies have declined but are still higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Turnover for approximately half of the jobs surveyed improved from last year’s numbers, but there are increases in turnover in pharmacy, surgery, housekeeping, dietary, occupational and physical therapies and APRNs. Vacancy rates statewide for nursing, respiratory therapy, laboratory and clinics have improved, but unfortunately, vacancies in the diagnostic imaging professions have worsened.

The report shows vacancy and turnover rates in 2023 for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses have declined from their peak in 2022, but nursing assistants’ vacancy and turnover rates are unchanged from 2022. Nineteen percent of hospital LPN positions and fifteen percent of hospital RN positions are vacant. Twenty percent of LPN and sixteen percent of RN positions were turned over throughout 2023. Other positions with the highest full-time vacancy rates are sonographer/ultrasound technologists (20 percent), nursing assistants (19 percent) and radiology technologists-certified (18 percent).

The overall employee turnover rate for surveyed health care positions in Kansas averaged 19 percent, with the occupations that turned over the most being housekeepers (34 percent), dietary aides (34 percent) and nursing assistants (30 percent).

New Kansas Department of Labor data indicates respiratory therapists are now the fastest-growing occupation. The number of RTs needed by 2030 will be up by nearly 23 percent, while registered nurses have the highest number of jobs, with 3,192 new RN jobs created by 2030.

The report also includes breakdowns of vacancies and turnover geographically by seven regions. For the second year in a row, Southwest Kansas has the region with the highest vacancies (17 percent of jobs are open). The largest openings in that region include mammography technologists (67 percent), sonographer/ultrasound technologists (41 percent) and magnetic resonance imaging technologists (40 percent).

The report also notes enrollment in Kansas K-12 and post-secondary schools has continued to decline. Fewer students are seeking health care credentials, licenses and degrees, and in turn, working in health care in Kansas.

KHA continues to work with multiple stakeholders to combat these issues on a variety of fronts including resiliency and retention education efforts, new preceptor/mentor statewide trainings, events to promote health care careers, advancements of health care apprenticeship opportunities to allow hospitals to grow their own workforce and workforce executive roundtables that bring together colleges and hospitals to address these issues collaboratively.

KHA also continues to work with policymakers, encouraging their support of these efforts by enhancing existing inventive programs to encourage students to pursue health care careers and commit to working in Kansas following graduation, increasing support to collegiate health care programs to be able to enroll and graduate more students and providing assistance for hospitals lacking resources. We encourage members to use this data, along with the talking points, to have conversations in your local communities or initiate local media coverage on workforce challenges and solutions you are implementing.
--Chad Austin