A new reports finds vacancy rates for key positions are on the rise in Wisconsin hospitals. Judy Warmuth, vice president of workforce for the Wisconsin Hospitals Association says the state's tech colleges are doing a good job supplying the growing demand for many health care positions — but not all. "Now what's happening is those positions that take longer to prepare, or that have smaller programs, or aren't able to be as responsive, have come to the top" of the list of positions hospitals need to fill, says Warmuth, citing pharmacists and physical therapists as two examples. "Those are occupational groups where it's very difficult for the occupation to respond with the kind of growth they need," Warmuth says.
While the UW School of Pharmacy is excellent, Warmuth says that it's not the type of program that can quickly expand to meet with increased demand. "It's a very complex program," she says. "I think what they do, they do well. We just need them to do more of it."
Warmuth says the looming shortage in health care workers is being driven by retirements and the growth of Wisconsin's population of older adults. "We don't have a lot of eighteen year olds, and we're continually attracting back parents and grandparents and older residents," Warmuth explains. "We're getting older, faster than a lot of states around us. That means we're consuming health care faster." And there's also competition from other states, which attract graduates of Wisconsin's health care programs.