COVID-19 and the Health Workforce 8/17-8/31
There are concerns that the public health workforce does not have enough funding or staff for this fall’s vaccination campaigns for the flu, COVID-19, and monkeypox.
A new study examines COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst registered nurses in California.
(08/22/22) Overlapping Emergencies Strain the Nation’s Public Health Workforce and Threaten Critical Vaccination Campaigns
There are concerns that the public health workforce does not have enough funding or staff to deal with vaccinations this fall. In addition to the global pandemic, the public health workforce will also have to deal with inoculations for the flu, monkeypox, and polio. There are major concerns that states will have a difficult time mobilizing vaccinations and will need additional support. During the pandemic, 1 out of 4 public health workers left their jobs, which has caused strain on the current health workforce and could severely impact critical vaccination campaigns this fall. Distrust and misinformation has also led to an increase in vaccine hesitancy.
(08/2022) COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy and Intent in California Registered Nurses
This article published in Vaccine X surveyed a random sample of California registered nurses (RNs) general vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19 vaccine intent. 27.7 % of the respondents met the inclusion criteria. The study found that greater vaccine hesitancy was significantly associated with lower COVID-19 vaccine intent. Nurses’ distrust in vaccine safety and preference for “natural” disease exposure were strongly associated with COVID-19 vaccine intent. One major limitation of the study is the survey closed prior to the first COVID-19 vaccines receiving emergency use authorization, which means that respondents’ responses to survey questions might have been different once the COVID-19 vaccination became a reality. This survey was also the first time nurses used the VAX scale to measure general vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Workforce Shortages
A Health Affairs podcast discusses overcoming interstate licensing barriers for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Current immigration policies are impacting the recovery and potential growth of the nursing workforce.
Health Workforce Shortages
(08/23/22) Podcast: Ann Nguyen on Practicing Across State Lines in An Emergency
Ann Nguyen from Rutgers University discusses overcoming interstate licensing barriers for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic on Health Affairs’ A Health Podyssey podcast. Nguyen is the co-author of the paper Impact Of The New Jersey COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Reciprocity Licensure Program On Health Care Workforce Supply.
(08/22/22) Why Immigration Falls Short As a Nursing Home Workforce Solution—And How to Fix It
Current immigration policies are impacting the recovery and potential growth of the nursing workforce exponentially. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the nursing home sector has lost 229,000 caregivers. The nursing industry is struggling to acquire international nurses and other staff because of the lengthy approval process and the long time it takes to become certified in the US. A solution proposed to help speed up and simplify this process is to create a separate streamlined immigration track for health care workers.
(08/18/22) Removing Licensure Barriers for Immigrant Health Workers to be a Priority for Maryland Lawmakers Next Session
Maryland lawmakers may have legislation before them in the 2023 session that would remove the social security number requirement for immigrant health workers to receive licensure from occupational boards. Currently immigrant health care workers, despite having the educational and certification qualifications, are currently banned from licensure due to lack of a social security number. Furthermore, barring immigrants from obtaining licensure does not align with other state policies that provide immigrants who are not yet citizens assistance for health education and training programs such as in-state tuition and legislative scholarships. Additionally, some lawmakers see eliminating the social security number requirement as a way to bolster the health workforce and offset shortages.
Health Workforce Resilience
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy outlines the actions that need to be taken to address health worker burnout.
A new article examines how the US response to the monkeypox outbreak falls short and is similar to COVID-19 in regards to messaging and vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to overhaul its structures and operations following major criticism of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and monkeypox outbreak.
A recent report evaluates the impact COVID-19 had on emergency medical services (EMS) certification early in the pandemic.
Health Workforce Resilience
(08/25/2022) Impact of COVID-19 on Initial Emergency Medical Services Certification in the United States
This study analyses the testing volume and first time passing rates of the national certification examination for emergency medical technicians and paramedics in 2019 to 2020 to determine the impact COVID-19 disruptions had on certifications. The study found a decrease in the total number of examinations administered by 13% (122,598), but first-time pass rates remained unchanged.
(08/18/22) Confronting Health Worker Burnout and Well-Being
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy outlines the actions that need to be taken to address health worker burnout in this recent article published in The New England Journal of Medicine. “Burnout manifests in individuals, but it’s fundamentally rooted in systems. And health worker burnout was a crisis long before COVID-19 arrived” says Murthy. Murthy notes that despite “years of inaction” there have been promising signs of change including the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act of 2022 and the 2021 American Rescue Plan that provided resources to strengthen programs and infrastructure to address health worker well-being.
(08/18/22) CDC Director Orders Agency Overhaul, Admitting Flawed COVID-19 Response
Owing to the intense criticism of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and, more recently, the growing monkeypox outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching an overhaul of its structure and operations in an attempt to modernize the agency and rehabilitate its reputation. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky shared a series of changes with CDC leadership and staff designed to “transform” the organization and its work culture by improving how the agency shares information, develops public health guidance and communicates with the American public. The CDC restructuring follows two reviews conducted in recent months, one by Health Resources and Services Administration official Jim Macrae into the CDC’s pandemic response and another by CDC Chief of Staff Sherri Berger into agency operations. The reviews concluded that the “traditional scientific and communication processes were not adequate to effectively respond to a crisis the size and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to an agency statement.
(08/16/22) COVID-19 Lessons Fall Short for Monkeypox Response, Experts Say
This article, published in Becker’s Hospital Review, examines how the US response to the monkeypox outbreak falls short and is similar to COVID-19 in regards to messaging and vaccines. According to Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, as monkeypox began spreading globally public health officials failed to work with the LGBTQ community to effectively address the spread, similar to how the US failed to prevent COVID-19’s disproportionate toll on historically marginalized communities early in the pandemic and that we are seeing a lot of “Groundhog day”. The pandemic also pushed many public health officials to retire or resign, meaning the nation now has a much smaller public health workforce to address the monkeypox outbreak.