Shortages of all types hitting medical field

As demand for medical services continues to grow, medical facilities are facing a shortage in a variety of areas.

“Hospitals across the country are struggling with a shortage of one of their essential medical supplies,” reported NPR. “Manufacturers are rationing saline solution — essentially pharmaceutical-grade saltwater. The stuff is used all around hospitals to clean wounds, mix medications or treat dehydration. Now drug companies say they won’t be able to catch up with demand until next year.”

In its report on the shortage, NPR said it was leaving “San Francisco General Hospital’s materials manager, Reid Kennedy, in a fix. Kennedy is in charge of managing all the gloves, bandages, bedpans and IV solutions for the emergency room, medical floors and operating room.”

“We were put on notice that it was going to be tight,” Kennedy said.

Replacing the saline shortage won’t be easy.

“To make one of these drugs is very complex, even though the drug itself is simple,” Capt. Valerie Jensen, the director of the drug shortage program at the Food and Drug Administration. “It takes about three weeks to make one batch of normal saline from start to finish.”

She says it’s challenging to make sure saline products are sterile. If you swallow a pill with a little bit of dirt on it, you’ll probably be fine. But contaminated saline injected into your vein could cause a big problem, NPR reports.

“That’s why the FDA sets strict quality standards for the facilities that manufacture saline and other IV drugs, but the agency has to find a delicate balance between safety and supply.”

Saline solutions aren’t the only shortage facing medical facilities as there is also a shortage of professionally trained medical personnel, including nursing assistants. There is a growing need for support staff positions who can work with professional nurses in a variety of healthcare settings.

The shortage of nursing assistants will only grow worse as the medical industry continues to grow.

“We have a positive outlook for growth in the market for temporary workers with healthcare skills, Timothy Landhuis, author of the U.S. Staffing Industry Forecast, told Staffing Industry Analysis in a September article “Although growth in 2013 appears to have decelerated in part due to cuts and delays related to physical and occupational therapy reimbursements from the government, we forecast reacceleration in 2014 as healthcare staffing continues to benefit from the secular growth in total healthcare jobs due to an aging U.S. population, as well as the buildup of staff at healthcare companies in preparation for as many as 20 million newly insured individuals due to healthcare reform.”

Landhuis also said he expected the healthcare industry to grow by 7 percent in 2014 as the demand for medical services continues to grow in almost every part of the country.

The healthcare industry is growing across the country and an example of that growth can be found in the college town of Knoxville, Tenn.

“Growth in the healthcare sector in the Knoxville area, as elsewhere, has been fueled by demographic forces… namely, an aging population,” Dr. Sam Evans, director of KIRES and associate professor of Finance and Economics for King University,told in a September article. “These forces are expected to continue in the future.”

In the Knoxville area, healthcare is responsible for nearly 22 percent of the region’s total employment and the medical career field added more than 10,000 jobs over the past decade.

Knoxville is just an example of the growth of the healthcare industry that can be found across the country. “Employment trends by sector in the Knoxville MSA mirror those exhibited nationwide over the past decade,” theTriCities article said. “The main feature of this trend is a loss of jobs in the goods-producing industries, primarily manufacturing, and a gain in jobs in the services sectors, including healthcare.”

The medical sector can offer jobseekers a long-term career, but many of these jobs require training. That is true for the medical assistant profession, but The Healthcare Institute offers a training program that can help students secure a medical assistant career in a matter of months.

The medical industry is growing across the nation and jobs as a medical assistant can be found in almost every market, making this a career field worth considering for many jobseekers.


Skip to content