Martin said the Healthcare Workforce Coalition conducted a survey in 2007 of hospitals and found that imaging, laboratory, and pharmacy personnel were among the top positions that affect hospital efficiencies and access to care when vacancies exist. In 2009 the CHA decided to conduct a follow-up survey to understand how the economy was affecting demand for allied health professionals currently and to assess hospital concerns regarding workforce in the future. The survey was distributed to 200 hospitals, and 125 responded. The response was strongest from northern and central California, yet was generally representative of the CHA membership overall. Martin noted that rural hospitals were slightly overrepresented, which was a positive because that “was a critical component that we wanted to capture.”

The survey asked about 14 occupations chosen by the CHA Workforce Committee:

  1.   Clinical laboratory scientist

  2.   Medical laboratory technician

  3.   Radiologic technologist

  4.   CT technologist

  5.   PET technologist

  6.   Cardiovascular and interventional radiology technologist

  7.   MRI technologist

  8.   Ultrasound technologist

  9.   Nuclear medicine technologist

10.   Pharmacist

11.   Pharmacy technician

12.   Physical therapist

13.   Physical therapy assistant

14.   Respiratory therapist

Not all of these occupations would be classified as allied health (e.g., pharmacists), but the survey results nevertheless provide useful and valuable information about allied health professionals.

The survey showed that respiratory therapists are the largest of the 14 occupations at the hospitals surveyed. The top five occupations—respiratory therapists, pharmacists, pharmacist technicians, radiological technologists, and clinical laboratory scientists—make up 76 percent of the total full-time equivalent (FTE) positions reported by the survey respondents.

The occupation with the highest vacancy rate was physical therapist. Smaller hospitals had higher vacancy rates than larger hospitals. Also, rural communities are in greater need of physical therapists than urban communities, Martin said. “It’s tough for students to get education and training in this area in rural communities, and it’s tough to attract them to practice

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