Nebraska leads most states in training a health care workforce to meet state needs, according to a report from the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. The college’s dean, Dr. Keith Mueller, says the aging of many of the state’s health professionals will pose a problem in years to come, if a solution isn’t found.
Dr. Mueller says, “In all of the professions, the largest part of the population of the professions is age 50 and higher, so we have a large number of health care professionals that we would expect to start retiring within the next ten years.” He says another problem is the attitude of younger workers. Those who are retiring are accustomed to working very long hours, while the next generation says that’s not how they want to practice. Mueller says for every two people who retire, it may take three workers to replace them, as the retirees may have been working 50 or 60-hour work weeks. He says this type of forward-looking report is important to Nebraska.
“What will be important to us is maintaining this kind of exercise of having this comprehensive view of the workforce,” he says. Mueller is director of the Nebraska Center for Rural Health Research and dean of the UNMC College of Public Health. He says, Nebraska looks fine overall, and we fared better than most states, “but this doesn’t mean we can sit back and rest on our laurels. We have looming aging and changing lifestyle issues. If we act now, we can act successfully deal with these issues.”
Among the report’s findings: more than one-third of all physicians in Nebraska are older than 50 years old and are likely to retire in the next 10 to 15 years; women account for only 26-percent of Nebraska’s physician workforce; more than one-third of dentists and psychiatrists are over age 55; more than 20 percent of actively practicing registered pharmacists in Nebraska are older than 55 years and likely to retire in the next 10 years.
To view the entire report, visit this website.