The healthcare industry is projected to need 1 million new nurses within five years, but most settings are finding the wait between placing a help wanted ad and a hiring decision to be far too long.

The reasons are many and complex, according to new research by Pew Charitable Trust’s Stateline. Based on its extensive review of occupational data, Pew determined it takes an average of 49 workdays to fill a typical healthcare job opening. The hiring lag isn’t due to a lack of candidates, many of whom face mounds of college debt and sparse offers. 

“Hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies and doctor’s offices, like a lot of employers across the country, have a specific resume in mind,” Stateline observed, meaning many settings are looking for candidates with specific training, skillsets or specialties while lacking the money required to attract such candidates.

Among the long-term solutions to resolving such critical pay issues are Medicare and Medicaid fee schedules that support competitive wages, and taking steps to stem attrition by improving working conditions, Pew researchers said.