The last two years has been challenging for the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals, especially registered nurses. This decline in healthcare talent has significantly impacted vacancy rates, which directly relates to recruitment and retention efforts.

In fact, according to the American Hospital Association, two-thirds of hospitals currently have a nurse vacancy rate of 7.5% or more. Hospital employment has continued to decline compared to pre-pandemic levels and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that hospital employment is down 95,600 employees from February 2020, with no signs of the trend slowing down.

Vacancy rates may be perceived differently whether you are in human resources and looking at the hospital as a whole or if you are the nurse manager of a specific unit, i.e., medical surgical. This may even vary from organization and how the vacancy and measurement is defined.

At Conexus MedStaff, we have seen different interpretations of the actual “vacancy” terminology, and the criticalness related to that vacancy. Please note, having any vacancy is not recommended. A nurse manager may take a leave of absence into their consideration of vacancy, as they are looking at their total full-time employment (FTE) requirements.  This manager may also consider a position as vacant as soon as a notice has been given; however, hospital policy may require approval and authorization for reposting the same position. Furthermore, having a vacancy of several positions within one unit, and even within one shift, may have more of an impact then another area which is larger and has more personnel to lean to.

The inclusion of time as a consideration of vacancy may vary as well. For example, a nurse manager may consider a nurse providing notice of leave as an impending vacancy, however, the healthcare system may consider a monthly calculation or a quarter as the measurement.

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Vacancy Rate Calculation

If you are curious how to calculate your organization’s vacancy rate, see the explanation and accompanying example below.

Take the number of vacant job-specific positions (or positions within the whole organization) and divide by the total number of job-specific positions (or positions within the whole organization). Then, multiply that number by 100 to identify your vacancy rate.

There is no denying that the healthcare industry is currently experiencing the effects of high demand for healthcare professionals and higher than normal turnover, while also struggling to recruit and retain talent. The direct impact of this, is likely felt hardest within the actual unit, including healthcare staff, patients, and family of those patients, that are providing and receiving care.

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Being creative and remaining flexible to identify both short- and long-term solutions remains key to overcoming these current and ongoing challenges. To learn how Conexus MedStaff can offer strategic partnership and assistance in achieve these goals, learn more at

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