Randy Griswold on shortages of licensed health care workers

Wisconsin Society of Radiologic Technologists committee member Randy Griswold describes how traveling medical professionals who need licenses to work in the state are filling growing workforce gaps.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

June 15, 2023

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Randy Griswold:
Now the other thing that's happened in the last couple of years is because of this terrible manpower crisis that we've had, not just in Wisconsin, but nationwide. There's a terrible shortage in manpower on all fronts. You know this. Health care has certainly been one of the ones that's been impacted the most. So it's purely just the economic alternative, we get what are called traveling technologists, all right, or, quote, "rent-a-techs," as that's kind of the connotation. And they're basically technologists from anywhere in the country who can come in on a per diem basis, on a contractual basis, and work as a technologist in a department that will contract with them for a prescribed period of time. So that process has kind of supplanted in some areas the manpower crisis that we've had. The problem that that has created is that when these technologists come in from, let's say they come in from Nevada. A technologist wants to come to Wisconsin, they've contracted with a particular hospital to work in radiology, they don't have a state license in Wisconsin, all right? So then they're dealing with getting a state license even to come in as a per diem rental technologist, and that has kind of gotten in the way. I know that there is currently some talk about a transitional licensing process for those types of people. I don't know what the status of that is right now. I know that it's being developed as a part of a legislation and there's a couple of different iterations of that as far as what it's gonna finally look like. I will tell you that I've been in this profession long enough to tell you that the manpower, the manpower issues in my field are cyclical. You know, for a number of years we've got more technologists than we had jobs. And then for reasons, I don't know, people didn't wanna get into radiology, so then we ended up with a shortage of technologists. So then that's when the rent-a-techs started to come in and fill that void. And then the schools would ramp up their enrollments, more schools were created, so we were producing more qualified graduates to enter the profession of radiologic technology. And then the manpower would finally even out and then we'd work that way for a number of years. So it was cyclical. I think a lot of people are expecting this current cycle to undergo what's happened in the past. I don't think that's gonna happen. I really don't. I think that this manpower thing that we're dealing with right now is gonna be long term, and I'll tell you why. We can't say specifically, we just have a feeling. First off, there doesn't seem to be as much interest in people coming outta high school and getting into health care. I think it's the COVID scare. They just, I don't wanna do healthcare. You know, I don't want the long hours. I don't wanna run the risk of getting sick. You know, whatever it is. Or there are too many other alternatives than working in healthcare, all right? I mean, just take a look at the starting wage at a Culver's for example. I mean, these kids are coming outta high school looking at that and saying, "Well, why do I wanna go to school for two years "when I can start making this?" So that I think has kind of drained some of the people coming out of the high schools that could potentially get into healthcare. And nursing's dealing with the same thing.

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