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Press Release

Talent Development Needs Agility and Adaptability to Support Healthcare Challenges

Published Wed Mar 31 2021


ATD research highlights the critical role that talent development professionals play in helping healthcare organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and nursing shortage.

(Alexandria, VA) March 31, 2021—The COVID-19 pandemic and a nursing shortage combined to present unique challenges for talent development professionals in the healthcare industry, according to new research from the Association for Talent Development (ATD), sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand.


Every participant in the 2021 State of Healthcare Training research stated that their organization had made changes to talent development activities in response to the pandemic:

  • Ninety percent had converted existing instructor-led traditional classroom courses to online formats.

  • Eighty-three percent had cancelled or postponed instructor-led traditional classroom courses.

  • Eighty percent had offered new or updated training on safety and infection control for clinical workers.

  • Seventy-seven percent had offered new or updated training on safety and infection control measures for nonclinical workers.

Research published in the American Journal of Medical Quality estimates that the United States will face a total national deficit of approximately 1 million registered nurses (RNs) by 2030. Only 15 percent of survey participants considered their organization prepared for the coming nursing shortage to a high or very high extent. About 78 percent of survey participants reported that the nursing shortage was already affecting their organizations’ nurse workforce through more hours worked by nurses (70 percent), burnout (56 percent), and increased workload (52 percent).

Ninety percent of survey participants reported that their organization had implemented one or more talent strategies to address the nursing shortage:

  • Eighty-one percent were providing tuition reimbursement for nurses.

  • Sixty-seven percent were formally partnering with educational institutions to develop and recruit new nurses.

  • Fifty-seven percent were increasing internal advancement opportunities for nurses.

In an interview for the research report, Jenny Harshman, manager of clinical education and a nursing professional development leader at a large pediatric hospital in Texas, recommended that organizations take a two-pronged approach to reduce nursing expertise gaps that may arise due to the shortage. The approach involves “both building skills of established staff and hiring experienced nurses into the clinical unit.” With the latter group, she advises developing a tailored onboarding program. “While the orientation period will be shorter” for experienced nurses compared to inexperienced ones, she explains, they will still need training “on the organization’s policies, procedures, and escalation processes.”

Other key research report findings include:

  • Healthcare organizations had an average direct training expenditure of $651 per employee in the last full fiscal or calendar year. Nearly half (48 percent) expected their total direct expenditure to remain the same or increase in the current fiscal or calendar year, and 69 percent expected it to do so for the next fiscal or calendar year.

  • The average healthcare organization used 65 percent of its total direct training expenditure for internal services (for example, TD staff salaries, TD travel, administrative costs, and nonsalary development and delivery costs). Of the remaining 35 percent, 20 percent went toward learning suppliers, and 15 percent went toward tuition reimbursement and continuing education.

  • After the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, 80 percent of healthcare organizations plan to continue some or all new infection control measures and training for employees. A majority (67 percent) also plan to continue some or all their measures and training for patients.

A free webinar detailing the report data will take place June 1 at 2 p.m. ET.

About ATD

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees, improve performance, and help to achieve results for the organizations they serve. Established in 1943, the association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports talent development professionals who gather locally in volunteer-led US chapters and international member networks, and with international strategic partners.

For more information, visit td.org.


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