Sourcing Review: What Worked & What to Expect in 2024

The ever-evolving healthcare staffing landscape has surprised and challenged even the most experienced tenured leaders and industry newcomers alike. 

With critical staff shortages, widening skills gaps, and mass retirements plaguing the healthcare industry, many experts predicted a fierce hiring storm in 2023. But did those recruiting and sourcing winds blow as strongly as expected?

In this guide, we’re exploring the year’s biggest healthcare and hiring trends, separating predictions from reality, and charting the course for your 2024 planning.

2023 Healthcare Staffing Review: Predictions vs. Reality

As organizations continued to overcome healthcare staffing shortages during 2023, experts predicted: 

1. An Over-Reliance On Travel Nurses Would Continue

Thanks to the pandemic, travel nurse spending jumped 190% in 2021 and reached its peak of $42.5 billion in 2022. With increasing labor shortages, experts forecast a heavy reliance on contract workers and travel nurses during 2023. 

What Actually Happened

While travel nurses were used, the numbers show that demand — and spend — dropped drastically. Travel nurse revenue fell an average of 30% in 2023, which many considered an inevitable pullback after intense demand. Projections estimate that travel nurse spending will drop further to $27.5 billion in 2024.

We discussed the state of travel nursing during a recent webinar with Steve Koerner, CEO and Co-founder of Velocity HCM Consulting Group, and Scott Foster, Director of Executive and Provider Recruitment at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. When we polled attendees, we learned that travelers comprised just 10% of their clinical workforce, significantly less than in 2022.

You can download a recording of the webinar or read our summary of everything discussed (including our top tactics to recruit and retain clinical staff).

There are many benefits to using contingent workers to improve labor shortages. But they pale in comparison to a robust permanent roster of professionals who embody your company culture, are committed to long-term growth with your organization, and form meaningful relationships with your patients. That may be why data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows there were 800k healthcare hires in 2023 — 10% more hires than in 2022. 

2. Healthcare Workers Will Continue To Leave the Profession

Organizations lost over 100k nurses due to the pandemic. Then, The Great Resignation and phenomena like “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” worsened the nursing shortage further. As more employees prioritize better work-life balances and trade burnout for mental health support, experts forecast higher turnover rates during 2023.

What Actually Happened

According to the BLS, there were 715k separations from the healthcare industry in 2023. That’s 10.5% higher than the 647k separations from the previous year. However, the BLS counts separations as both involuntary and voluntary departures, so it’s not a totally accurate representation of professionals leaving the field.

In a survey of nearly 1,500 nursing professionals during 2023, we learned that only 33% of nurses plan to remain in the profession for the foreseeable future, and ~25% plan to leave the profession in the next one to two years. More than half of RNs say there’s insufficient staff to meet demand, which they regard as the worst part of the profession, resulting in burnout and feeling overworked.

But a survey of permanent nurses later during the year revealed a turn of events. Researchers found that 17% plan to transition to travel nursing, 55% plan to remain in their current role, and just 5% plan to leave nursing altogether. This survey should give healthcare employers hope for a more stabilized workforce in 2024.

3. Sourcing Will Remain The Biggest Challenge For Healthcare Companies

Sourcing is proactively searching for qualified talent for current or future positions. According to Madeline Laurano, the Founder of Aptitude Research, sourcing is the most fundamental area of talent acquisition. Organizations cannot recruit and retain talent unless they properly source high-quality candidates. 

Technological advancements make it possible to connect with people who may have been out of reach just a few decades ago. But a lack of expertise and the volume of information makes it difficult to land that talent. And nearly 40% of healthcare companies do not have dedicated recruiting and sourcing teams.

What Actually Happened

Laurano said 85% of healthcare companies planned to increase their investment in sourcing tech or invest the same amount in 2023. However, 75% of companies were still unsatisfied with their sourcing approach — despite spending outpacing pre-pandemic levels.

As a result, companies began rethinking and reprioritizing their investments. Quality of hire became the number one driver determining ROI. With business leaders’ increased focus on retention, sourcing is the first line of defense to prevent employee turnover. And identifying quality hires early helped organizations prepare for future needs.

She explains that sourcing now requires a strategic and thoughtful approach where technology meets human connection

“Companies need to balance the art and science of sourcing, including relationship-building activities (the “art”) and measuring and evaluating the most effective strategies (the “science”).

You can read the entire 2023 Research Report: The State of Talent Sourcing here.

2024 Planning: Healthcare Trends & Hiring Predictions

The healthcare sector is predicted to create about 45% of all new jobs between 2022 and 2032 — adding over 2 million job openings across the US. To meet these continuing labor needs, experts forecast that 2024 will require:

1. More Reliance On AI-Driven Solutions

Talent acquisition teams are becoming overwhelmed and on the brink of burnout with the sheer number of job openings they must fill. That’s why experts say nearly 40% of healthcare staffing tasks should be automated by AI in the next three years. 

AI-powered talent acquisition tools can help:

Offloading these time-consuming, high-volume tasks reduces the admin burden, enhances productivity, and improves the recruitment process and hiring outcomes. More importantly, it empowers TA teams to focus more on the “human” element of connecting with top talent and building meaningful relationships.

2. More Locum Tenens

Healthcare facilities are predicted to increase locum tenens usage in 2024. Locum tenens work in temporary positions, filling in gaps within their community or region for anywhere from a few days to a few months or even a year. They can help meet rising patient demand during peak periods (like flu season), allow your full-time staff to take vacations or leaves, and assist while you’re recruiting permanent staff.

Unlike travel nurses, locums encompass a wide range of healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other advanced practice providers.

Approximately 7%, or 50,000 physicians, have worked at least one locum tenens assignment in the past year, and 71% say the experience has been very positive. More than 79% of administration staff and 76% of physician colleagues also accepted locum positions during the same time.

This strategic, proactive approach provides organizations with incredible flexibility and scalability. Your team can bring in highly experienced healthcare workers on-demand to prevent coverage gaps, diminish burnout of your permanent staff, and continue providing patient care.

3. A New Approach To Sourcing

Traditional methods like staffing agencies, job boards, and career sites are becoming less and less effective. They are resulting in higher spend with lower ROI across the board.

During a recent webinar, we spoke with George LaRocque, a leading global market analyst and the Chief Analyst and Founder of WorkTech, about how to overcome these escalating hiring hurdles.

He said this challenging environment has increased the healthcare industry’s dependency on staffing. But what was once a creative outsourcing solution is now a cost center spiraling out of control. Organizations are starting to avoid staffing altogether, opting to build internal recruiting teams, yet driving even greater staff shortages.

The time is ripe for a new approach in 2024.

Your TA team cannot compete for talent with the same agencies it’s become dependent on — you’re not a staffing firm. According to LaRocque, organizations must learn how to transform staffing challenges into a competitive advantage. This requires a multi-channel approach that leverages a holistic mix of sources (including agencies). 

“Attempting to disintermediate agencies is a fool's errand. Sourcing talent is too hard, especially in markets like healthcare.”

Download a recording of the webinar to hear LaRocque’s recommendations for the six types of talent sources teams must leverage in 2024 and the best tools to add to your new hiring tech stack. Or read our summary of his strategies.

Relode: The Precision Recruitment Engine, Powered by AI

We’ve explored the biggest hiring trends and predictions in 2023. Your recruitment strategy is one thing that’s guaranteed to largely impact your organization’s profitability and patient care in 2024 — for better or worse. 

We know you want to gain control of your recruitment process, ensuring you get the right talent quickly to keep your facility compliant and closer to full capacity.

That’s why navigating the intricate realm of healthcare hiring requires an innovative approach. Combining game-changing, AI-powered technology with our strong network of recruiters and healthcare professionals, Relode is ushering in a new era where hiring solutions align seamlessly with your objectives.

Here’s How It Works

As Laurano mentioned, your organization must leverage technology and human connections to attract and retain top talent, balancing the art and the science of recruiting.

The “art” of relationship-building. Our diverse network of recruiters connects your TA team to undiscovered talent reservoirs only accessed through real, human relationships built through the decades — no more scraping basic job boards like traditional staffing firms. We ensure every candidate is tailored to your distinct vetting criteria so your time is directed towards only the best talent. 

The “science” to measure and evaluate the most effective strategies. Our precision recruiting engine and AI candidate matching redefine the hiring paradigm to fill high volumes of open roles, fast. Our innovative, cost-effective solution drives tangible hiring results and empowers you to monitor your hiring funnel around the clock.

Make 2024 The Year Your Team Rethinks Recruiting

Relode amplifies, not replaces, internal talent teams to make them as efficient and effective as possible. With our easy-to-navigate software — ranked highly on G2 for our seamless user experience — industry leaders like Cerner, Graham Health, and VNS rely on us to fulfill permanent, locum, contract, and part-time healthcare needs.

At Relode, innovation meets assurance in healthcare hiring. We believe you deserve:

  • Access to AI technology to drive you to the forefront of healthcare innovation and bypass outdated recruitment practices.
  • Top talent that will help reach your organization’s fullest potential and mission.
  • Transparent partnerships that don't keep you guessing on ROI and value.
  • To see results for the price you pay.

Relode’s healthcare-focused hiring solutions challenge the status quo and make hiring better for everyone. So, how can we solve your hiring challenges in 2024?