Shortages in Health Care Add Challenges Last year, 40% of surveyed speech-language pathologists in health care indicated that their workplace currently had an open, unfilled position (ASHA Health Care Survey, 2005). This high vacancy rate reflects an increase from 25% in 2002 (ASHA Health Care Survey, 2002). Shortages of SLPs exacerbate the challenges of working in ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   October 01, 2006
Shortages in Health Care Add Challenges
Author Notes
  • Janet Brown, is director of health care services in speech-language pathology. Contact her at jbrown@asha.org.
    Janet Brown, is director of health care services in speech-language pathology. Contact her at jbrown@asha.org.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / School-Based Settings / Healthcare Settings / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   October 01, 2006
Shortages in Health Care Add Challenges
The ASHA Leader, October 2006, Vol. 11, 1-21. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.11142006.1
The ASHA Leader, October 2006, Vol. 11, 1-21. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.11142006.1
Last year, 40% of surveyed speech-language pathologists in health care indicated that their workplace currently had an open, unfilled position (ASHA Health Care Survey, 2005). This high vacancy rate reflects an increase from 25% in 2002 (ASHA Health Care Survey, 2002). Shortages of SLPs exacerbate the challenges of working in health care by increasing workloads, stress levels, and the potential for ethical conflicts and encroachment by other professionals.
Health care facilities compete with each other and even with schools to attract and retain qualified SLPs. Companies woo SLPs by mail and phone, offering sign-on bonuses, relocation allowances, and other perks to entice them away from their current positions. While some facilities may have a pipeline of potential employees from practicum affiliations with local universities or are located in a major city that may attract SLPs, many smaller communities or rural areas lack a pool of candidates from which to draw.
ASHA’s Focused Initiative for Personnel Issues in Health Care and Education has sought to gather and address factors contributing to the current shortages. These efforts have fallen into the following categories:
Information on Shortages
Meetings and conference calls have been held with different groups of leaders, stakeholders, and experts to gather information on shortages:
  • Leaders in state speech and hearing associations

  • ASHA’s Medicare Intermediary Consultants

  • SLPs based in hospitals and long-term care settings

  • National associations (Easter Seals, Visiting Nurses of America, and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice)

  • State hospital associations

  • State health and labor departments

  • State Early Intervention agencies

Many state and national agencies acknowledged that SLPs are in short supply, but have focused their resources on what they consider more urgent needs, such as the shortage of nurses. Early intervention agencies across states were most keenly aware of the impact of vacancies for SLP positions.
A two-day forum of ASHA members from health care, schools, and universities was held Sept. 28–30 to share solutions and develop additional strategies. A report on the forum will appear in an upcoming issue of The ASHA Leader.
Recruitment/Retention Resources
Recruitment/retention packets for different settings are available to assist ASHA members or hiring managers in understanding the current job market and provide tips for recruiting. ASHA’s 2005 Health Care Survey provides useful information about productivity, salaries and hourly rates, and vacancies. A new brochure, “Reward Yourself with a Career in Health Care,” introduces speech-language pathology and audiology to students in elementary through high school grades. Members can request up to 25 free brochures for school fairs by contacting the Action Center at Actioncenter@asha.org.
Awareness of Speech-Language Pathology
Articles written by ASHA members and staff were published by other professional groups and trade associations to promote the various aspects of the role of SLPs in health care. This year articles were placed in print or electronic publications of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Health Care Association, and the National Association on Home Care and Hospice, as well as in Advance for Directors in Rehabilitation, Home Healthcare Nurse, and Stroke Connection.
The Focused Initiative will continue in 2007 with additional strategies based on information that continues to be gathered. For more information, or to provide your suggestions, contact Janet Brown atjbrown@asha.org, Amy Hasselkus atahasselkus@asha.org, or Penny Gershman atpgershman@asha.org.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
October 2006
Volume 11, Issue 14