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Bracing for Workforce Shortages

CAPT Chris Bersani, HRSA Deputy Regional Administrator-Boston, told officials in Massachusetts last month that they are "leaders in a leading state" as the nation faces looming health workforce shortages. The Bay State is expecting a shortfall of 44,000 clinicians in the next 5 years.
CAPT Chris Bersani, HRSA Deputy Regional Administrator-Boston, told officials in Massachusetts last month that they are "leaders in a leading state" as the nation faces looming health workforce shortages. The Bay State is expecting a shortfall of 44,000 clinicians in the next 5 years. 

 

HRSA's Region One office, in conjunction with William James College, hosted a symposium in Newtown, Massachusetts last month called Help Wanted: Preparing and Strengthening the Behavioral Health Workforce. The event drew a varied audience, including health care providers, academic researchers and staff from more than 20 non-profits, insurers, and state and federal government agencies.

An aging population, the opioid crisis and the expansion of behavioral health services in primary care clinics are contributing to skyrocketing demand.

Some 44 million American adults have a diagnosable mental health condition, and depression among young people is increasingly common. Mental health and disability also have been linked to substance use and overdose deaths.

“Every group, foundation, and government entity that has delved into the Workforce issue have come up with very similar findings and recommendations," said HRSA's CAPT Chris Bersani. "Yet, the problem endures."

By 2025, HRSA's Bureau of Health Workforce has forecasted (PDF - 451 KB), the nation is expected to experience shortages of psychiatrists; clinical, counseling, and school psychologists; mental health and substance abuse social workers; school counselors; and marriage and family therapists.

In Massachusetts, noted Dr. Michael Hoge, professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, and others, some 25,000 of the state's projected 44,000-clinician shortage will consist of registered nurses, supportive care workers and behavioral health providers.

This week, HRSA's National Center for Health Workforce Analysis released Allied Health Workforce Projections providing national-level estimates for 2016 to 2030 of the following occupations: chiropractors and podiatrists, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, medical and clinical laboratory technologists, occupational and physical therapists, optometrists and opticians, pharmacists, registered dieticians, and respiratory therapists.

Date Last Reviewed:  June 2019