Rural healthcare worker shortage threatens safety and economic vitality

Rural healthcare worker shortage threatens safety and economic vitality

In 2019 the American Hospital Association (AHA) published its Rural Report; a “state-of-the-union” on the vitality of rural healthcare. 

The American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment (AAIHR) recaps herein some of AHA’s key findings and recommendations as to what elected officials can be doing to address the critical rural healthcare worker shortage.

Some 51 million rural Americans depend on their hospital as an important source of care as well as a critical component of their area’s economic and social fabric. 

These rural hospitals provide access to care close to home and improve the health and well-being of the patients and communities they serve. The availability of local, timely access to care saves lives and reduces the added expense, lost work hours and inconvenience of traveling to facilities farther away. However, the reality is that rural hospitals face many critical challenges that have ultimately led to the closure of nearly 100 facilities since 2010.

“Recruitment and retention of health professionals is a persistent challenge for rural providers, resulting in workforce shortages, reduced access to care for patients and high ongoing costs to providers.”

American Hospital Association 2019 Rural Report

How can conditions be made better for voters in rural communities? Recommendations of the AHA include updating federal policies to provide relief from antiquated requirements and supporting workforce programs targeting rural areas that continue to be hard hit by provider shortages.

“The federal government must play a principal role by updating policies and investing new resources in rural communities.”

American Hospital Association 2019 Rural Report

AAIHR maintains that the federal government can further protect rural healthcare by ensuring the continued ability of U.S.-licensed, internationally-trained healthcare professionals to legally immigrate to the USA. The persistence of unfilled healthcare positions within rural hospitals threatens patient safety and the ability of facilities to remain open to serve the residents of their communities.

For more information on this topic, please read our post Statement on the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act.

To review an executive summary or the full findings of the AHA Rural Report, visit

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