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Employers battle retention tension with new skills – and can generative AI help?

Employers battle retention tension with new skills – and can generative AI help?

By: Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO, Futuro Health

As employers know, we are in a serious healthcare workforce shortage. According to AMN Healthcare, 85% of employers report Allied Health Staff shortages, and the American College of Healthcare Executives reports that workforce shortages topped the list of hospital CEO’s biggest concerns for the third year in a row.  This shortage won’t resolve anytime soon. Experts project a 3.2 million shortage by 2026.  The U.S. BLS tracks that resignations among healthcare workers have increased steadily from about 400,000 per month in 2020 to nearly 600,000 per month in May 2023. The recently released NHA 2024 industry outlook research report outlined similar concerns. 

NHA’s report finds that workforce shortages are inspiring employers to embrace models of training and upskilling their workers to improve retention rates. In fact, over 70% of employers either have or are planning new hire or reskilling training programs to address staffing needs.  NHA found that 82% of employees believe career laddering programs for entry-level workers would increase employee retention rates, and 71% of employees believe certification is very important/important to employee retention.

Employers have been engaging in clever practices to maintain costs and improve retention while maximizing people internally. Take the example of Pallas Care, serving residents of Los Angeles County, the agency employs state-registered home care aides to provide personal care management that help their clients maintain their independence and age with dignity. Pallas Care enrolled its staff of home care aides in Futuro Health CalGrows direct care worker training courses, which included Futuro Health’s Human Touch Healthcare™.

Rich Harvey, executive director and co-founder of Pallas Care, expressed how well Futuro Health’s culturally competent care and Human Touch Healthcare(tm) training aligned with his agency’s mission, values and goals.

“There's really no better training for caregivers. Through Futuro Health, we now better understand better how to connect with clients, listen to what their needs are, and connect to their cultural background for the type of individual care they need.” ​

According to Harvey, direct worker roles are shifting rapidly, and caregivers are seeking any kind of training that can improve their skills, emphasizing the importance of professionalizing caregiving to attract and retain talent, especially given the growing demand for direct care workers amidst an aging population. “Key to our mission is making caregiving a profession, not just a minimum wage job. Advancement opportunities and training development are imperative.”

And, like Pallas Care which focuses on elder care, Futuro Health also works with Homebridge to upskill the in-home supportive service workforce through a full suite of online, in person, and hybrid modules across the state of California.  Given the growing segment of those aged 65+ who consume greater healthcare on average, the care workforce demanded will only grow.

Can generative AI help in the training of the healthcare workforce, especially as the industry casts a wider net on talent in order to meet the volume of workers demanded?  I spoke with the faculty lead of the UC Berkeley Computational Approaches to Human Learning Research Laboratory recently.

We explored whether intelligent tutors could help many Nursing Assistants in long-term care facilities, especially those who are English Language Learners and first-generation Americans, prepare for Licensed Practical/Vocational Nursing (LPN/LVN) programs at community colleges.

Becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse means significantly better pay and opportunity. According to, the U.S. average base salary for this role is $67,828 per year compared to $35,340 for a Nursing Assistant, almost double.  A good use of generative AI is to create tools that aid in learning, hastening mastery of academically rigorous pre-requite coursework like anatomy, physiology, and microbiology that gate whether a student can even start.

Already, generative AI has shown itself helpful in the use case where it closed the performance gap for new engineers.  The same tool proved less useful for senior engineers. Given this, I am excited to explore applications of this technology to realize the future of learning to unlock upward mobility in the healthcare workforce.

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Related Reading: Walmart will close all of its health care clinics.


Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan is a nationally recognized expert in workforce development. Her distinguished career spans the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. She is a White House Champion of Change and California Steward Leader, and formerly served as Executive Vice Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.



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