There's no doubt about it - the healthcare workforce is becoming more diverse every year. This is good news for patients, who may feel more represented by the providers they visit at hospitals and clinics.
At the same time, a diverse talent pool may mean that physician recruiters will need to adjust their strategies.
How is the healthcare workforce changing?
The medical workforce is a reflection of larger demographic trends. According to Brookings University, U.S. population growth has been trending downward since the mid-1990s, with 2018 representing the slowest growth in 80 years. At the same time, immigration has trended upward, especially as the economy recovered from the 2008 recession.
As a result of these and similar trends, the nation's talent pool looks quite different than it did at the turn of the millennium. We can define these changes using three characteristics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and industry sources: Age, gender and race.
Healthcare age demographics
A significant percentage of physicians today are near retirement age or older. As physicians in the baby boomer generation continue to leave the workforce, the pressures of physician shortage grows.
Among younger physicians, the ratio of male to female physicians is quite different from that of older demographics. A 2017 Athenahealth survey found:
Physicians aged 55-64: 82.4% male to 17.6% female.
Physicians aged 35-44: 48.5% male to 51.5% female.
Physicians aged 35 or younger: 39.4% male to 60.6% female.
Healthcare race demographics
The U.S. has always been a melting pot and its demographic distribution continues to evolve today. As more people from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds enter the workforce, they bring with them unique perspectives and experiences. According to BLS:
In 2008: 6.2% of physicians identified as African-American, 16.6% as Asian and 5.8% as Hispanic or Latino.
In 2018: 7.6% identified as African-American, 19.8% as Asian and 7.4% as Hispanic or Latino.
How can recruiters appeal to a diverse talent pool?
Organizations with diverse workforces tend to perform better than those with less diversity. A McKinsey report found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to financially outperform their less-diverse competitors. Likewise, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform competitors.
Inclusivity in medical recruitment
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 57% of recruiters have strategies in place to help increase diversity in the workplace. Research has indicated that many companies without diversity initiatives still consider it an important issue, but they lack the resources to establish a formal strategy.
To attract a diverse workforce, recruiters need to show that their organizations value diversity. A simple way to do so is to use inclusive language in job descriptions. Avoiding masculine language can make job postings more accessible to female job candidates, for example.
Another way to demonstrate a commitment to diversity is to include more representation in social media posts, career sites and company landing pages, and all other external career-related events. Maintaining this representation in interview panels, for example, shows that the organization is committed to inclusivity.