The Imperative for Strategic Workforce Planning and Development: Challenges and Opportunities

By Kimberly McNally, MN, RN, BCC and Veronika Riley

A critical need exists to elevate the discussion about workforce planning and development to ensure it becomes a standing, rather than crisis-driven, component of comprehensive strategic planning for hospitals and health systems. Given the dramatic changes occurring in the field, health care organizations should begin now to align workforce planning and development with general operations as well as identify and employ innovative solutions to traditional workforce challenges.

The workforce influences almost every aspect of providing high-quality care. Without an adequate and appropriately trained supply of health professionals, the hospital field will not be able to meet the needs of an aging population, care for patients in rural communities, address and integrate behavioral and physical health and provide the breadth of services our changing health care environment demands. With the rapid evolution of the health care system, illustrated by the fundamental shifts in how care is provided and paid for and compounded by hospital transformation and redefinition, an urgent need exists to begin comprehensive workforce planning.

AHA’s Committee on Performance Improvement (CPI) recently engaged hospital leaders and experts in the field to discuss current challenges and to identify key workforce topics that will impact patient care delivery. Many challenges already exist and likely will be further exacerbated as transformation continues and pressures mount.

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