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Nearly all Michigan healthcare jobs will face shortages within 10 years, report finds

Nearly every healthcare occupation in Michigan will experience staff shortages over the next 10 years, with mental health services and lower-paying jobs facing some of the biggest challenges. That’s according to a new report analyzing wages, turnover, expected growth, and shortages of 36 healthcare positions, from the nonprofit Michigan Health Council.

“There's obviously been a lot of anecdotal stories, really since the beginning of 2020, about the difficulties facing our health care workforce,” said MHC research director Michelle Wein. “And so to see that reflected in the numbers over the next 10 years, and to see that there were going to be shortages really across the board … you're able to sort of put data to the stories that you've been hearing.”

Even the jobs that aren’t expected to face shortages are dealing with distribution problems, the report finds: Workers are clustered disproportionately in urban parts of the state, leaving rural residents with fewer options for care.

“And Michigan has a lot of rural areas, so I think that that's a really specifically Michigan problem, where you're trying to bring people to parts of the state that aren't necessarily seen as the most desirable working location,” Wein said.

Behavioral health (including mental health and substance abuse treatment fields) will be especially critical areas, the report found, citing an increase in reports of anxiety and depressive disorders, as well as an increase in drug overdose death rates in the state, and an age-adjusted suicide rate higher than the national level.

“The crisis surrounding behavioral health occupations cannot be overlooked,” it states. "Expanding access to behavioral health care in all of Michigan to the same rates of care seen in the best access areas of the state would improve access for 336,000 people with a mental illness and 85,000 people with a [substance use disorder]. All of this establishes the need for more growth in all behavioral health occupations – from psychiatrists to substance abuse counselors.”

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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