States across the country have been experiencing a workforce shortage of health professionals. The most pressing concern is the shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs), as they are often one of the most critical components of any patient care team. The nursing shortage can be explained by a multitude of factors; some of these include the baby boomer generation reaching retirement, increased need for healthcare professionals as the population gets older, lack of qualified nursing educators, burnout and the emotional toll of the profession, and growing emphasis on preventative care (usa.edu). The shortage has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased burnout and stress for many healthcare professionals.
While this is a shared concern across the country, South Dakota has an even greater concern, as the state is ranked third in the nation for states experiencing the worst of the RN shortage. As of 2030, South Dakota will be the only state in the Midwest experiencing a shortage. Studies have projected that South Dakota will need an additional 1,900 Registered Nurses, which is a 14% increase in the current workforce to meet the projected demand (NursingEducation.org).
States, healthcare facilities, and other organizations, including SDAHO, have been working to find sustainable and effective solutions to manage the issue. SDAHO launched the “Hometown Healthcare Heroes” Project to aid rural healthcare facilities and organizations in nursing and healthcare professional recruitment by highlighting the facility and its surrounding community. Additionally, SDAHO will be holding our annual Rural Health Leaders Conference in Pierre on July 12th and 13th, where the focus is discussing the workforce shortage facing South Dakota with various community members, healthcare professionals, and other key stakeholders. We encourage member hospitals to participate in these activities and contribute to the ongoing discussions. You can learn more about both opportunities by visiting our website at SDAHO.org.