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Hawaii health care worker shortage has worsened, report says

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The shortage of health care workers has dramatically worsened over the past three years, according to a new report released today by the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

The number of job vacancies for health care workers jumped 76% from 2019, the report found — from 2,200 job openings then to 3,873 today.

Of those openings, nearly 1,000 are for registered specialty nurses, while more than 700 are for certified nursing assistants and nurse aides.

Hawaii is also short of hundreds of medical assistants, licensed practical nurses, and other entry-level positions such as personal care assistants and phlebotomists.

“We definitely have some very serious challenges in terms of the adequacy of the healthcare workforce,” said HAH president and CEO Hilton Raethel. “It’s unprecedented, at least in recent history, to have this number of openings across this many job categories for health care professions.”

The job vacancy rate increased to 17% compared to 10% in 2019. The smallest isles, Lanai and Molokai, have the highest percentage of vacancies.

The survey for the Hawaii Healthcare Workforce Initiative 2022 Report was taken between February and June of this year. It was originally scheduled for release in 2021 following an initial report in 2019, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HAH says the need, exacerbated in part by the pandemic, puts increased pressure on employers to recruit, train, and retain qualified employees.

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