The whole country is experiencing a healthcare shortage, which might not be surprising news. But what is surprising is that the states with the highest demand for healthcare workers are constantly changing due to market pressures, retirement trends, and availability of new graduates. Here are the states that have the highest demand for healthcare workers in 2022 and some of the causes behind that demand.
Nearly three million of Arizona’s seven million residents have limited access to primary care doctors, with the biggest shortage in rural areas. In addition, one-third of the state’s doctors are older than 60, meaning the gap in care will continue to widen as physicians retire. The Grand Canyon State estimates it will need more than 1,000 additional primary care doctors by 2030 to meet the needs of its growing population.
Texas has just 219.4 physicians per 100,000 people, which is well below the U.S. average of 217.6 per 100,000 people. This is a gap that will be particularly difficult to overcome, considering the fact that Texas has had the largest population growth in the country for the past two years — nearing 30 million people.
8. North Carolina
North Carolina has among the highest demand for healthcare workers, but it also offers unique opportunities with 13 rural counties that either have no dental or mental health access. However, a new state program aims to address high-risk patients based on health risks, such as people with risky pregnancies, multiple chronic conditions, homelessness, or food insecurity.
In Indiana, there are more than 20 medically underserved counties with limited access to the full range of healthcare services. An additional 20 counties have medically underserved populations, meaning that there are groups of people who don’t have access to healthcare because of factors like income and where they live. In addition, Indiana’s healthcare needs continue to grow due to a combination of an aging population and workforce, and a growing population. By 2030, Indiana projects a shortage of 817 more doctors than it will need.
Florida has long dealt with an aging population, including both local Floridians as well as people who move to Florida in retirement. Florida’s rural populations are particularly struggling with a shortage and an aging population. The Sunshine State projects that it’ll have a shortage of nearly 18,000 doctors by 2035. This is due in part to the need to serve the growing population, but that growth combined with the provider shortage is leading to burnout and providers leaving the profession. On the positive side, Florida is enacting legislation aimed at addressing this shortage. For example, in 2021 it eliminated barriers to hiring new physician assistants.
When Wisconsin studied its healthcare needs across professions, it found that 13 of 17 healthcare professions had an increase in vacancies. Much like other states, these vacancies come from an aging workforce, along with a spike during the “Great Resignation” that followed the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin Hospital Association is attempting to address this gap by upskilling workers, removing barriers in healthcare, and reducing regulations where possible.
Illinois has a particularly high demand for behavioral health professionals. With only 13.8 therapists per 10,000 residents, it’s much lower than the national average of 21.4 therapists, and the behavioral health shortage doubled in just two years. That means that 4.8 million residents in Illinois don’t have access to a therapist in their area. Illinois also has a shortage of primary care physicians, projecting it will need an additional 1,063 physicians by 2030.
In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is the city with the second-highest number of medical jobs in the country. Philadelphia has a storied history within medicine; it has the oldest medical school in the country, and today, it’s connected to medical giants like Merck and Johnson & Johnson. In 2022, Pennsylvania passed a bill that allocated $225 million to support the healthcare industry, including $100 million for acute care, critical access, and children’s hospitals, as well as $110 million to critical access hospitals and their behavioral health centers. So, healthcare jobs are only going to continue to increase in Pennsylvania.
2. New York
New York is second from the top on our list, partly due to its need for more nurse practitioners. New York projects that by 2028 it will need more than 20,000 additional NPs to meet the medical demands of the state. That’s a growth rate of 1,640 NP positions each year. However, New York is focused on attracting and retaining talent across healthcare positions. That’s why it is proposing a budget of $4 billion for retaining healthcare workers and giving them bonuses.
California has the highest demand for healthcare workers in the country. More than 11 million people in California live in an area with a shortage of primary care providers. Although many other states on this list have shortages primarily in rural areas, that’s not the case with California. For example, 33% of people living within Los Angeles county live within a health professional shortage area. It’s the most populated county in the U.S., but the healthcare worker population isn’t proportional to it.
No matter which healthcare profession you’re in, there is a growing need for your skills and expertise across the country. These 10 states have some of the highest demand for healthcare workers, providing great opportunities to increase your income and expand your scope of practice.
Updated June 23, 2022