Vacancy rates for most allied health jobs at hospitals declined in 1992, according to a new American Hospital Association report on hospital human resources.
The report confirms anecdotal information from hospitals that the staff shortages plaguing many hospitals in the late-1980s are over, particularly shortages in the nursing ranks.
In fact, the hospital vacancy rate for staff nurses dropped to 5.3% in 1992 from 8.1% in 1991. The shortage peaked in 1989, when 12.7% of staff nurse jobs at hospitals were vacant.
And, in another sign of the times, the American Nurses Association has "retired" its policy statement outlining short-term strategies to solve the nursing shortage. The ANA said its board of directors decided the statement was "irrelevant in today's workplace."
In its report, the AHA said its latest findings reflected the ongoing downsizing that's taking place within the hospital industry. The association also credited hospitals with implementing successful recruitment strategies to counter the previous shortages. The strategies include increased pay.
The new AHA report is based on an October 1992 survey of 3,429 hospitals, or more than half the hospitals in the country. The association conducted similar surveys in 1989 and 1991.
The 1992 survey found that hospitals reported lower vacancy rates in 19 of the 26 job categories included in the poll (See chart). The drop continues a trend identified in the two earlier surveys, which found that vacancy rates dropped in 16 of the 26 job categories between 1989 and 1991.
Experiencing the biggest decline in vacancy rate were radiation therapy technologists, whose rate dropped to 9.7% in 1992 from 12.9% in 1991, the AHA report said.
Experiencing the biggest increases in vacancy rates over that same period were nursing aides/assistants (4.6% from 3.9%), pharmacy technicians (4.1% from 3.4%) and physical therapy assistants (8.9% from 8.2%).