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This is part one of a three-part series: Parts two and three of this series will take a closer look at the relationship between cost effectiveness and care quality, as well as the strategies health care systems are using to take care of their human resources. Here are the issues examined in this installment:
• Today’s low unemployment climate throws health care into heavy competition for qualified workers.
• The health care work force consists of a high proportion of 40-ish workers. They don’t adapt to the pressures of speed and change as readily as their 20-something counterparts.
• Nursing ranks are thinning due to retirements and shortfalls in nursing school enrollments. Already lean, nursing staffs suffer from the gaps caused by hard-to-fill vacancies.
• Pharmacists feel stress from two directions: higher production expectations and underutilization of their skills.
• Physicians struggle to uphold their clinical standards as practice costs exceed revenues.
(See "Nursing shortages compound workloads and tight budgets," p. 68; "Medical practice overhead outstrips revenue by 5%," p. 69; and "Nursing schools offer dim hope for fresh troops," p. 69.)