How the need for healthcare workers will only increase after 2020

Healthcare workers comprise all parts of the healthcare sector—physicians, nurses, physical therapists, caregivers, and other allied healthcare professionals. Their primary responsibility is to provide excellent patient care through different services depending on their educational background, experience, skills, and expertise.

The need for healthcare workers has only become more apparent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems that that need will only increase as we move forward. There are many contributing factors as to why the demand of healthcare workers will only rise after 2020. Read further below to increase your awareness and understanding about the facts surrounding this topic.

Nursing Shortage

Nurses play a critical role in the healthcare industry and BSN graduates make up the largest nursing section working in various medical facilities. Hospitals, clinics, trauma centers, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings require the expertise of nurses not just at patient bedsides, but also in managing administrative and leadership tasks. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, it was projected the demand for nurses will continue to increase.

A published article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine reported that:

  • The American Nurses Association (ANA) projected that more nurse jobs will be in-demand and available through 2022 as compared to any other profession in the country.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that about 11 million additional nurses will be needed after 2020 to avoid further nursing shortage.
  • Nursing employment opportunities are projected to increase at a more rapid rate (15%) than other jobs from 2016 to 2026.

Aging Population and Primary Care Physicians Shortage

Recent research claims that there will be a primary care physician shortage by 2032, which will create an increase in the need of family nurse practitioners. This is especially true because the aging population is growing.

In Canada, for instance, seniors—people aged 65 years and older—are expected to increase by 68% for the next 20 years. Additionally, the number has drastically increased over the last 40 years—the population of seniors grew from two million to 3.5 million from 1977 to 1997. In 2017, the elderly population in Canada was about 6.2 million, and increased to 6.5 million in 2019. It is projected that the Canadian population will be more than 20% seniors by 2026 and majority will be women. Such an aging population will drive a surge in different healthcare jobs: nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical therapist assistants, and nursing aides.

The good news is that most of the high-paying occupations, at least in Canada and the US, are in healthcare. For example, anesthesiologists and psychiatrists typically earn over USD$200,000 annually. It’s essential to note, however, that these specialists need to complete a minimum of 11 years of postsecondary training and education, like all medical physicians. The high salaries, however, mean that the healthcare industry won’t find it very hard to attract people into its workforce.

The Baby Boomers are Reaching Retirement Age

The baby boomer generation was born in the years between 1946 and 1964. There were around 76 million born in this span—this actually was the largest documented generation born in history. In 2012, this generation’s oldest members reached the minimum age to receive retirement benefits like Social Security. However, it’s not until 2030 when the remaining baby boomers will also be of retirement age.

Four million people, on average, will retire annually if you divide the number of baby boomers (76 million) by this generation’s 19-year span. That’s nearly 11,000 individuals per day. To provide post-retirement healthcare, most baby boomers will be relying on Medicare or Medicaid as well as other healthcare programs. As a result, existing healthcare resources will be strained.

The continued increase of average life expectancy will also add to the strain on existing healthcare resources. With the average life expectancy’s continued growth, members of the boomer generation are likely to live longer and thus rely longer on healthcare programs than previous generations. To put the increase in average life expectancy into perspective, the current 78.8 years is actually nearly double the number a century ago. Of course, to maintain efficient healthcare, there should be an increase in healthcare professionals that can match the increases in patients.

Healthcare professionals must ensure that they’re taking advantage of technological advances and that insurance and payment systems are efficiently running to keep the aging boomer generation active and healthy. Note that apart from providing care and managing staff, professionals in healthcare will also be required to manage the increased IT systems load.

Dominance of Health Knowledge Workers

Knowledge workers refer to artists, writers, social media managers, interpreters, engineers, policy analysts, programmers, scientists, and healthcare workers, such as doctors, nurses, and paramedics. They make up the dominant working group of post-industrial economies.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people shifted from office to work-from-home settings. Knowledge workers are the ones rising up and maintaining a good grasp of the online world, research, financial, and healthcare sectors. They are the ones who are creating, innovating, and taking care.

However, many healthcare workers are also thinking about their health and safety. The health uncertainties of the pandemic made some healthcare workers slow down and stop working because they also fear for their own lives and their families. For this reason, the demand for healthcare workers is urgently on the rise.

Increased Public Awareness and Demand for Health Services

More and more people are becoming health-conscious because of the experience of the 2020 pandemic. People will be utilizing healthcare services to continuously monitor their health, especially after the COVID-19 vaccine is widely disseminated and people can return to their typical lifestyles. Hence, the need for healthcare workers will only increase after everyone gets vaccinated in the coming year.

Along with the projected increase demands in healthcare services, there will also be a rise in healthcare costs. According to a report, the healthcare funding in Canada should increase from 22% to 35% to ensure that the citizens will continue to obtain healthcare services during the COVID-19 crisis and in the new normal. It only goes to show that the need for healthcare workers will increase beyond the coronavirus outbreak to ensure public health.

Biopharmaceutical Industry’s Boom

A global growth rate of 6.3% is projected by several market research firms for the pharmaceutical industry through 2022. That’s up from the prediction last year through 2020, which was just 5%.

This field will have an increased need for professionals as the demand for pharmaceutical products grows. An increase in qualified professionals in healthcare could benefit biopharmaceuticals. It’s also good for the economy since the biopharmaceutical industry is one of its largest and still growing parts.

Jobs in the biopharmaceutical sector also offer high wages. The workforce in the industry has diverse educational backgrounds and skills, with common job titles being health and safety manager, genomics technician, molecular biologist, and clinical research associate.

New Technologies Entering the Healthcare Industry

It’s predicted that the home-care diagnostics and monitoring market will grow 8.71% globally between 2018 and 2022. What’s behind the increase? It’s technology. It’s currently the healthcare industry’s driving force. Healthcare technology is affecting the field with breakthroughs in treatment options, research, and data collection.

New technologically advanced healthcare devices expand the medical device sector, giving an opportunity for more medical professionals to get involved. New technologies include remote patient monitoring and wireless sensor technology. Doctors can monitor even patients who are staying at home with the help of remote patient monitoring. Wireless sensor technology, on the other hand, eliminates the obstruction and inconvenience of wires when patients are wearing health monitors, especially at home. These new technologies add to the existing diagnostics and monitoring devices, such as blood glucose level indicators and heart rate monitors.

Supplemental healthcare plans can also be used to help manage the cost of medical devices, such as remote patient monitoring and wireless sensor technology. It not only helps make these technologies more accessible to medical professionals but can also help to reduce the financial burden on patients and their families.

Telemedicine will increase in popularity, and doctors and patients alike will be relying on it more with the assistance of new, advanced devices for home diagnostics and monitoring. Technology allows doctors to make split-second decisions regarding a patient’s health because physicians can meet them in the comfort of their own homes via webcam. In many medical cases, the difference of even just a few moments can save someone’s life.

A greater need for healthcare professionals that are focused on informatics will arise as technology changes healthcare. They’ll be responsible for creating, analyzing, and managing new technologies.

WHO Workforce 2030

The Workforce 2030 Strategy reinforces and compliments related strategies that were already developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). It reaffirms the importance of the Global Code of Practice of WHO on the recruitment of healthcare workers worldwide, which calls upon the member countries to follow the outlined policy options and recommendations, including the following:

  • Create Effective Health Human Resource Policies: Optimization of the health workforce in order to accelerate universal health care. Evidence-informed policies should be established to optimize health workforce performance, which contributes to effective universal healthcare coverage and resiliency of health systems.
  • Prepare for the Future: Preparation for future healthcare systems to harness the increasing demand in the healthcare labor markets, maximizing job creation and even economic growth. All countries should have dealt with inequalities related to health worker access and improved the course completion rates in nursing, allied health professionals training, and medical institutions.
  • Data Monitoring: Strengthening data on human resource to ensure effectiveness and accountability of both national and global strategies. There should be accountability systems set in place to improve efficiency of health spending while optimizing health worker motivation, retention, satisfaction, performance, and equitable distribution.

Competition Drives Creativity

When employees are excited about the task they’re performing, competition leads to enhanced creativity. However, competition is also more likely to result in unethical behavior when the same individuals are nervous or anxious about their tasks.

Those who succeed will develop a drive to make a difference through their work. Excitement and creativity will keep on flowing throughout their careers due to that drive. There’s no doubt that the healthcare industry can benefit from the individual creativity that follows increased competition.

Of course, creativity and excitement for work will still largely depend on an individual’s strengths and personal preferences. However, there may be more opportunities for healthcare professionals to specialize in a particular niche as more people enter the workforce.

Healthcare professionals can show their creativity and ambition in any healthcare role, including budget analysts, hospital CEOs, and hospital administrators.

Political Influences that Result in an Evolving Environment

Change takes place due to technological, economic, political, and social factors. Politics, however, is arguably the most influential among them.

Any changes made to healthcare because of politics will require well-educated and capable professionals to implement these changes. Thus, the healthcare industry will need more healthcare workers to be involved in healthcare policy. Positions such as health service managers, healthcare policy analysts, and public health researchers will have to be filled in.

Healthcare policy jobs fall under any of the following categories:

  • Government Policy Careers — Healthcare policy analysts working for the government are the ones who will analyze the failure or success of current programs. They’ll also recommend changes with the aim of promoting individual and community health. Therefore, healthcare professionals who would like to have the ability to affect a particular health system policy before it’s created should look at healthcare policy jobs under this category.
  • Healthcare Consulting Careers — Many providers outsource some of the work to consulting firms. It’s especially true for those that don’t have the means to hire people with specific healthcare policy expertise. The ability to use financial modeling and advanced data that private organizations likely can’t access are the added benefit healthcare consulting firms provide.
  • Healthcare Settings Career — Many institutions are looking for candidates with experience in healthcare policy to fill certain professional positions as the healthcare system continues to transform. To ensure the institution continue to follow proper protocol, healthcare policy jobs require healthcare professionals to undergo ongoing education.


Now you realize the reasons why the need for healthcare workers will only increase after 2020. One major driving factor is the shortage for healthcare workers that the world is experiencing now, along with the aggravating effects of COVID-19. The WHO implements the Workforce 2030 strategy to optimize health human resource performance to address the growing demand for healthcare workers.