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 CHICAGO, April 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Chronic personnel shortages

persist among key hospital occupations, 1991 data released recently by the American Hospital Association indicate.
 The association's 1991 Human Resources Survey found that seven groups, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, radiation therapy technologists and other allied health professions, had vacancy rates of greater than 10 percent. Vacancy rates for those three groups, in addition to seven other occupations (cytotechnologists, medical record coders, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants, physician assistants, speech pathologists and surgical technologists), increased by an average of more than 1 percentage point from 1989 to 1991. Thirteen of 26 job categories had vacancies of 7 percent or more.
 The shortage among physical therapists was the highest of all occupations, with a vacancy rate of 16.6 percent, up from 16.4 percent in 1989. One in seven occupational therapy positions was vacant in 1991. One in eight cytotechnology, physician assistant and radiation therapy technology positions was unfilled, as was one in nine speech pathology openings.
 Strong demand for these professions, combined with limited numbers of slots in schools that train allied health professionals, will likely mean that hospitals can expect to have increased difficulty filling jobs and maintaining service levels in many key areas, said Barbara Bloom Kreml, director of AHA's Department of Human Resources.
 "Although hospitals have made significant efforts to reduce personnel shortages, a number of factors contribute to their continuing difficulty in recruiting the people they need," Kreml said. "To compensate, hospitals are restructuring some health care services and promoting greater use of other personnel to perform routine tasks, allowing professional staff to focus on the higher- skilled functions," she said.
 Kreml said persistent shortages in many personnel areas could affect some aspects of patient care. Patients may have to wait longer for rehabilitative services for example. Though this trend won't affect the quality of care patients receive, she said, it could add to the time it takes for many patients to achieve full recovery, because the services they receive will be more spread out.
 More than 70 percent of the 3,184 hospitals that responded to the survey said that the lack of available candidates is the greatest deterrent to successful recruitment. Hospital human resources executives said raising salaries is their most common recruitment and retention strategy. Other leading tools included overtime, staff pooling and incentive pay. Hospitals are least likely to use foreign recruitment as a strategy for combating personnel shortages, the survey reported.
 The following are occupations measured in AHA human resources surveys for 1989 and 1991:
 Hospital Vacancies -- full-time
 1991 rate 1989 rate
 (in percent)
 Certified registered
 nurse anesthetist 9.4 10.8
 Clinical perfusionist 5.1 11.5
 Cytotechnologist 12.8 12.3
 Histologic technician 5.9 6.3
 Licensed practical
 vocational nurse 6.4 6.5
 Medical laboratory
 technician 5.3 6.4
 Medical record coder 6.7 6.6
 Medical technologist 5.2 6.0
 Medical transcriptionist 5.6 6.2
 Nuclear medicine
 technologist 8.2 9.1
 Nursing aide/assistant 3.9 4.2
 Occupational therapist 14.2 13.6
 Occupational therapy
 assistant 10.3 8.2
 Pharmacist 5.7 7.1
 Pharmacy technician 3.4 4.1
 Physical therapist 16.6 16.4
 Physical therapy
 assistant 8.2 7.8
 Physician assistant 12.8 10.1
 Radiologic technologist 6.7 7.6
 Radiation therapy
 technologist 12.9 10.3
 Respiratory therapist 7.4 8.9
 Social worker 5.5 7.0
 Speech pathologist 11.1 9.9
 Staff nurse 8.1 8.7
 Surgical technologist 5.4 4.4
 Ultrasound technologist 7.0 8.3
 The AHA, a not-for-profit organization, serves as a national advocate for hospitals and the patients they serve, provides education and information for its members and informs the public about hospitals and health care issues.
 -0- 4/24/92
 /CONTACT: Jon Ross of the American Hospital Association, 312-280-6342/ CO: American Hospital Association ST: Illinois IN: HEA SU:

TW-DC -- DC021 -- 2647 04/24/92 16:23 EDT
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Date:Apr 24, 1992

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