Hearing about healthcare workers who are tired and stressed isn’t surprising these days. Staffing shortages are being reported in many different ways on the internet and social media. The community boards are advertising, as well as specialty websites and Facebook and LinkedIn. Many rad techs are posting they are considering traveling and the burnout remarks are everyday fodder. In exploring the myths and certainties of our profession, AHEC has surveyed many of our clients to gain information about how this is affecting our community. Where are the shortages? What modalities are affected? Is it geographically segmented? Is there an identifiable reason for a shortage? This information shared to you shines a light on what is happening in our profession.
Our survey had more than 350 participants from 34 states, and many shared their comments about the workplace. In general, radiologic technologists are working short staffed and are experiencing a significant burn out rate from the amount of overtime worked. Many are joining what is being called the “Great Resignation” The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that an additional 3.9 million people quit their jobs in June 2021 alone, falling slightly short of the 20-year record-high in April with 4 million people voluntarily leaving their jobs.
The top 4 factors cited as contributors to the burn out were: spending too many hours at work; lack of respect from administrators, employers, colleagues, or staff; feeling underappreciated and treated like a cog in a wheel; lack of competitive pay and recognition.
Anecdotally, about 30% of the respondents reported they knew technologists who stopped working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is certain that the disruptive influence from COVID-19 decreased the number of students graduating and taking their ARRT Registry. The number of graduates taking the exam decreased in 2020 by 7.8%. There are no available annual statistics about how many certificate holders are currently employed for year-to-year comparison.
Following the summation of our survey, we are seeing the results of the unions in California sending healthcare workers, including RT’s in some locations home to participate in a strike against their facility or organization. There is no easy answer to any of the problems that are facing healthcare. Alaska is so short of personnel that the legislature has appropriated $57 million to bring in additional staff. In many of the heavy COVID-19 locations, military personnel are arriving at the request of the State Governors to the federal government to bring much needed assistance to overwhelmed facilities. Yet, there is not much move of the unvaccinated to prevent these conditions by submitting to the vaccines. Even some physicians are still recommending to their patients not to take the vaccine and are not getting vaccinated themselves. We will live the “endemic” and not the “pandemic” and COVID-19 will stay with us as well as variants that we have not seen yet. We will continue to assess and report on the trends in our profession.