COVID-19-UTAH RESPONSE

How is ‘The Great Resignation’ impacting health care in Utah?

Jul 8, 2021, 9:21 PM
The great resignation...
(Syringes filled with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the mass vaccination site in the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy. Photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News, Jan. 18, 2021)
(Syringes filled with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the mass vaccination site in the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy. Photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News, Jan. 18, 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY – All over the country, millions of people are up and quitting their jobs and looking for better options. It’s called “The Great Resignation,” and analysts believe it’s impacting healthcare in Utah, which is especially concerning since COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

In early June, the World Economic Forum projected more than 40 percent of all workers across the US were planning to resign from their jobs. Some health care providers in Utah are already seeing this play out.

At any normal point, the University of Utah Health has 600 to 800 open jobs in all of its facilities statewide. However, Chief Human Resources Officer Sarah Sherer says they have 900 open jobs, now.

“I don’t think we’re alone. I know all of our other healthcare partners are in the same boat of looking for a workforce,” she said.

She reported these open jobs to include clinical and non-clinical positions. This is forcing the companies to find new ways to recruit and retain good workers. 

However, Sherer says that’s becoming increasingly difficult since there is so much competition between companies to find new employees.

“We have to be able to be flexible and adapt to this new, changing landscape and that includes hybrid work,” Sherer said.

Stagnant pay may be one reason behind this drop in health care workers. One person texted into KSL Newsradio claiming their pay hasn’t gone up for a long time, and other companies were offering less than what they currently make.

They write, “Why don’t hospitals and healthcare organizations open their checkbooks and there wouldn’t be a problem finding employees or keeping them?”

Other analysts reported the ongoing pandemic has many workers at the end of their rope. Utah Department Director of Preparedness and Response Dr. Kevin McCulley says hospitals were strained for so long, and now they’re seeing another uptick in COVID patients.

“There is, certainly, evidence of a great deal of burnout,” he said.

McCulley said they always knew hospital staffing was crucial to survive the pandemic, adding that extra beds and larger workspaces are worthless if you don’t have enough workers.

“We worked very closely, throughout this response, with chief nursing executives, chief nursing officers and the Utah Hospital Association,” he said.

National Public Radio reports a record four million people resigned from their jobs in April, nationwide.

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How is ‘The Great Resignation’ impacting health care in Utah?