DALLAS, July 24, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The majority of public schools in the U.S. lack a sufficient number of nurses, psychologists, speech language pathologists and other healthcare professionals, according to a new survey by AMN Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of healthcare workforce talent solutions.
“Many public schools are struggling to find the healthcare professionals they need at a time when the fallout from COVID-19 and rising mental health challenges are driving demand for school-based caregivers,” said David Schmiesing, President of AMN Healthcare’s Schools division.
According to the survey, 52% of public school administrators report their schools are understaffed with healthcare professionals. Over one-quarter of public schools (27%) lack a school psychologist, 21% do not have a registered nurse, and 17% do not have a speech language pathologist. School administrators rated school psychologists as the most difficult type of healthcare professional to recruit, followed by speech language pathologists and RNs.
Of those who report their schools are understaffed, 77% indicate understaffing has a moderate to major impact on student well-being, while only 2% said it has no impact.
The survey suggests that understaffing of healthcare professionals is common at a time when schools are facing a range of student health concerns, including poor physical health among many school age children. Child and adolescent mental health challenges also have been growing and have been exacerbated by both the pandemic and by school mass shootings. According to the National Institutes of Health, 20% of children and adolescents have a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder.
“Increasingly, public schools are on the front lines of healthcare, providing students with physical and mental care services they may otherwise be unable to access,” said Schmiesing. “Like many types of healthcare facilities, schools are finding it difficult to staff the healthcare professionals they need.”
Use of Contract Professionals Common
The survey indicates that the majority of public schools (73%) use contract professionals to staff vacancies. These are caregivers who typically work on temporary, nine-month contracts rather than on a permanent basis. The use of contract or “travel” professionals also is prevalent at many hospitals and other healthcare settings. According to the survey, schools use contract professionals primarily due to the difficulty of finding permanent workers. They also use contract professionals to meet the needs of a growing number of students requiring Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
“More students require the type of special care provided by school psychologists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, and others who impart language, life and social skills,” said Schmiesing. “These programs may be mandated by the government and require the presence of various types of caregivers who often are in short supply.”
Teletherapy One Tool to Address Shortages.
Administrators were asked in the survey what steps their schools are taking to address healthcare professional shortages. Close to one-third (29%) said they are using teletherapy to bring services to their schools remotely. Of these, the majority (54%) are using teletherapy to offer speech language pathology. An additional one-third of schools (34%) are raising the salaries of healthcare professionals, while 31% are seeking more funds for healthcare professional pay and recruitment.
A copy of AMN Healthcare’s 2023 Survey of Public School Healthcare Staffing Trends: Many Vacancies, Mounting Needs, which was based on 243 responses and has a margin of error (MOE) of +/- 5%, can be accessed at https://www.amnhealthcare.com/siteassets/amn-insights/blog/schools/survey-of-public-school-healthcare-staffing-trends-2023-final.pdf
About AMN Healthcare
AMN Healthcare is the leader and innovator in total talent solutions for healthcare organizations across the nation. The Company provides access to the most comprehensive network of quality healthcare professionals through its innovative recruitment strategies and breadth of career opportunities. With insights and expertise, AMN Healthcare helps providers optimize their workforce to successfully reduce complexity, increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes. AMN total talent solutions include managed services programs, clinical and interim healthcare leaders, temporary staffing, executive search solutions, vendor management systems, recruitment process outsourcing, predictive modeling, language interpretation services, revenue cycle solutions, credentialing, and other services. Clients include acute-care hospitals, community health centers and clinics, physician practice groups, retail and urgent care centers, home health facilities, schools and many other healthcare settings. AMN Healthcare is committed to fostering and maintaining a diverse team that reflects the communities we serve. Our commitment to the inclusion of many different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables our innovation and leadership in the healthcare services industry. For more information about AMN Healthcare, visit www.amnhealthcare.com.