The Lack of Health Care Professionals in The United States

Ankeen Karakashian🦋
5 min readJun 2, 2021


Health care is a fast-growing profession and health care professionals are essential to run this ever-growing system. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the demand for nurses and health care professionals increased. This demand increased specifically in high critical areas in the hospitals such as ICUs and the ER. However, this increase in demand due to the pandemic did not ensure that these professionals get more pay. According to Pollack (2020), many hospitals offered hazard pay, however, most hospitals were not able to provide that.

The number of nurses started to decline because nurses feared for their own lives and loved ones. There was also a lack of PPE in the hospitals which made it harder for nurses to do their jobs. According to Khullar (2020) hospitals are running out of healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses and there is a significant amount of staff shortage. There are many factors that contribute to the shortage of healthcare professionals. Some of these factors include the ever-growing aging population, retiring health care workers, increase in chronic diseases and illnesses, limited education programs.

One of the reasons for the shortage of healthcare professionals is the aging population. The nation’s population size is growing more, especially the aging population, and the physicians aren’t able to keep up with the demand. According to Boyle (2020), people that are going to be older than 65 years old will are projected to grow 45.1% in 15 years. Therefore, caring for people who are older will require more attention and more specialty care than people who are younger. The article by Boyle (2020) also stated that there will be a shortage of medical specialists between the numbers 9,300 and 17,800 and a shortage of another healthcare professional between 17,100 and 28,700 and between 17,100 and 41,900 include pathologists’ neurologists’ radiologists and psychiatrists. People who are over 65, in general, need more critical care.

On the other hand, there are many health care providers that are retiring which is also a reason why there is a shortage of health care professionals. According to Boyle (2020), more than 2 of 5 physicians will be 65 or older in 10 years. Many physicians do not retire, however, the majority of them do retire due to burnout in healthcare. Healthcare burnout is very common and happens a lot due to staff shortage and the stressful environment of the health care field. Many physicians chose to retire rather than continue working in a stressful environment during old age. Furthermore, medical students are less likely to choose to be primary care physicians which is also a factor for staff shortage. According to Knight (2019), students who chose to be primary care physician has been declining drastically and these students have unfulfilled primary care physician residence positions. Many primary care physicians said that they spend more than 10 hours on administrative work and filling out paperwork more than seeing actual patients.

Another reason why there is a shortage of health care professionals is the increase in chronic diseases and illnesses. When there are more illnesses and fewer doctors to treat these illnesses, there will be more problems with trying to treat these illnesses. The COVID-19 pandemic is a strong indication of this situation. When the pandemic started, more patients were admitted to the hospitals, and the hospital ICUs were filled with repository ill patients. According to Khullar (2020), in the U.S. the hospitals are running out of nurses and doctors. COVID-19 patients were at a record high and at some point, hospitals had more than 100,000 patients sick with the virus. These patients needed constant care and ventilators to be able to breathe. Khullar (2020) also stated that half of the states are facing a shortage of staff and more than a third of hospitals in varied states are running out of health care workers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021), 6 in 10 adults have chronic diseases in the United States. 4 in 10 adults in the United States have two or more causes of death and disability. There are many reasons which drive the increase of chronic diseases such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and excessive consumption of, alcohol and drug use according to the CDC (2021).

Another reason for the shortage of health care professionals is the limited education programs. There is a prevalent shortage of healthcare educators which is a problem that adds to the healthcare professional’s shortage. According to the Duquesne University School of Nursing (2020), there is a nursing shortage in the U.S., especially in educators. There are many people that wish to be nurses but can’t be due to the lack of teachers. According to Shi and Singh (2017), there is a deficiency in the training module of health care professionals. This training should be redirected and refocused on patient care. Teaching hospitals get funded by Medicare and Medical education programs. These teaching facilities depend on these types of funding in order to produce more primary care physicians, however, they are focusing more on specialty care.


Boyle, P. (2020, June 26). U.S. physician shortage growing. AAMC.

CDC. (2021, January 12). Chronic Diseases in America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Duquesne, U. (2020, June 26). The Shortage of Healthcare Workers in the U.S. Duquesne University School of Nursing.

Khullar, D. (2020, December 15). America is running out of nurses. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from

Knight, V. (2019, July 3). American Medical Students Less Likely To Choose To Become Primary Care Doctors. Kaiser Health News.

Pollack, G. (2020, December 16). Not enough nurses: Even with hazard pay California hospitals face fierce competition for fill-ins. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from

Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2017). Delivering Healthcare in America: A Systems Approach (7th

ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.



Ankeen Karakashian🦋

Freelance writer in Los Angeles, Ca. Healthcare Administration/Public Health Student. Interested in topics regarding health, wellness, technology, and lifestyle