SURVEY: Over 2,200 Healthcare Jobs Open in Hawai‘i

August 30, 2019, 8:40 AM HST (Updated August 30, 2019, 8:40 AM)
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The first-ever survey of healthcare workforce needs by the Healthcare Association of Hawaii shows more than 2,200 healthcare jobs open across the state, with an average vacancy rate of 10% and most jobs taking six to 12 months to fill.

The report also found that of 76 non-physician, patient-facing professions, 19 of them have no Hawai‘i-based education or training programs, and four of them are fields in high demand, such as physical therapy and RN case management. And while the local colleges and universities are graduating enough registered nurses, there is need for additional training for these nurses to transition to specialty practice within hospital settings.

Positions in greatest demand include:

  • Medical Assistants
  • Nurse Aides/Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
  • Registered Nurses (RNs)
  • Patient Service Representatives
  • Phlebotomists

The report also details early outcomes of strengthened efforts by the state’s healthcare and education sectors to more closely align training programs with industry workforce needs. These include collecting and sharing fresh data, and talking on a regular basis with high school and college officials to discuss where progress can be made.

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“We need to work with multiple stakeholders to better align Hawaii’s recruitment efforts and educational programs with healthcare’s evolving needs,” said HAH President and CEO Hilton R. Raethel. “It’s clear from this report that we must act now to address the growing need for healthcare employees.”

HAH serves as Hawai‘i’s hospital and healthcare industry trade association. It represents more than 170 organizations, including acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, home health agencies and hospices.

HAH’s Workforce Initiative, launched in 2018, is comprised of healthcare, education, and community leaders. While the demand for physicians in Hawaii is already well documented, there was a need for a deeper focus on the full, diverse spectrum of the patient-facing workforce, said Dr. Tim Roe, president and CEO of Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and co-chair of the HAH Workforce Initiative.

He also said Hawai‘i’s aging population will create further need for healthcare services. Employers and community partners need to work together on making sure Hawai‘i can fill its healthcare workforce pipeline.

“It is challenging to recruit new physical and occupational therapists to work in Hawai‘i,” he said. “However, we’ve now been able to spark important discussions with Hawai‘i’s educational organizations about ways our two industries can partner to generate more qualified employees. This dialogue must be ongoing, so Hawai‘i can grow its own workforce and maximize recruitment.”

Workforce Initiative Co-Chair Carl Hinson, director of workforce development at Hawai’i Pacific Health, said, “As a sector, healthcare competes for employees just like other sectors do. We need to market healthcare to our children and portray it as a good, viable way to make a living. Students can, with the right training in high school, start working right after graduating and can go on to do well in various professions with additional education.”

HAH’s research will be updated every two years and is the result of intense collaboration within the industry, as well as with community and education leaders.

Several Hawai‘i healthcare organizations have launched programs to recruit, educate and train employees:

  • Through opportunities such as the COPE Health Scholars Program at Adventist Health Castle and the Health Careers Summer Internship Program at Hawai‘i Pacific Health, students interested in healthcare fields are given the opportunity to gain first-hand exposure to care delivery alongside professionals in clinical and administrative settings. There may be opportunities to expand these programs to other facilities;
  • Hawai’i Pacific Health (HPH’s) pilot medical assistant program with five Oahu high schools—expanding to 12 schools in the fall;
  • The Queen’s Health System partnership with the University of Hawaii and Kapiolani Community College for medical assistant education and hands-on training;
  • HPH and Ohana Pacific Management Company’s training of nurse aids for 44 Pearl City High School students, with plans to expand; and
  • Hale Makua Health Services’ partnership with the University of Hawaii Maui Community College for Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) education, which saw its first graduates in January 2018.

About the Healthcare Association of Hawaii

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) is the nonprofit trade organization serving Hawai‘i’s hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, home care companies, and hospices. It is the state affiliate for national organizations that include the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. For more information, go to HAH.org.

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