A new report shows shortages continue for a variety of professions across all health care settings which was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the pandemic began to ease, I think people thought, well OK, shortages should ease right, and they haven’t,” said Jean Moore, who leads the Center for Health Workforce Studies.

That was reflected in an annual report compiled by the University at Albany’s CHWS studies from a variety of data sources.

“If you’re a provider trying to understand the workforce, you’re having to go all these different places,” program manager Robert Martiniano said. “So, we want to put all in one place.

Among the key findings was a growth in health care jobs statewide that varied by location and a shortage of registered and licensed practical nurses.

“What we saw in rural areas is that there are not enough people going on for higher education, they end at high school if not before,” Martiniano said. “You can’t talk about be a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant or even a registered nurse if you’re not talking about furthering your education.”

Experts say any issue with the workforce must be a broader discussion around not only health care but the education system and bolstering incentives like loan repayment for health care workers who agree to work in shortage areas.

“The best way to get a physician to that area is to have them practice in that area as part of a rotation so they get used to that community,” explained project director David Armstrong.

The working conditions many health care workers cite are another hurdle providers are facing with retention.

“People are leaving the bedside hand over fist right now and that’s what our problem is,” said Kathryn Dupuis, a longtime registered nurse in the Capital Region.

Beyond the need for better pay and benefits, Dupuis says new nurses are thrown into a pervasive culture.

“That leads to brand new nurses turning to brand new nurses for advice when there is a problem and that causes them to leave,” she explained. “If they don’t feel they have someone to turn to in the middle of an emergency, they’re not going to feel safe with the practice they’re providing.”

Experts are hoping reports like these can shed light on solutions.

“Because ultimately workforce leads to health care and health care leads to outcomes for our patients,” Martiniano said.