A comment had mentioned this might be an interesting topic and I agree. For a while now I was thinking of writing a post about it but I never did because I feel the answer to the question is rather easy and not really something that needs much thought or discussion.
There are no healers because healing is currently the hardest part of the game. Everything is on the healers, always is at the beginning of the expansion. Previously it was the mana issues while gearing up, getting to the point where you were capable of keeping up with the incoming damage of the raids without going OOM 1 minute into a 6 minute fight.
Now with the standardized mana pool you would think that would be a non issue but you would be wrong, dead wrong. Mana is still the number one concern. Because now everything scales on the power of your heals and being they are less when gearing up you have to spam the expensive heals more often and are once again OOM. So instead of stacking to get more mana (old style) and making the gearing up process hell you are stacking to get more power (new style) so you do not need to spam your expensive heals to play catch up which makes your life hell.
I've been teaching someone how to heal with their shaman. Someone that has very little healing experience and as such the LFR was a great place to do some teaching. A few months back we started our journey and I explained how things work and what he should do. He was doing fairly well but just not quite there yet. He would do his fair share in the LFR, top 3 all the time, but his healing was still not as good as it could be.
In time he started to get a little more comfortable with it and I gave him that one last tip, the one that tipped the scales from doing quite well, by LFR standards, to being ready to move up. Healing wave. A small, simple, cost neutral spell. One he and hundreds, perhaps thousands of want to be healers out there over looked because it is a small heal.
How does that make you a better healer he asked? I said, it helps you conserve mana and not everyone needs a big heal all the time or a fast heal all the time. Many times you will find that a smaller heal is all that is needed so why waste mana on a more expensive one or mana on a faster one when there is no immediate danger of death. Learn to use healing wave, make it your favorite spell. It is even my left click on my healbot being I use it so damn often.
Within two weeks running that way, paying attention to health and using healing wave whenever it would be a better choice, he went from doing 40K-50K HPS to 70K-80K HPS. One simple change. This comes down to something I have always said here, and much better healers then myself disagree with me and being they are better I will defer to them, but I still will believe it, that overhealing is the single most telling stat in the game that shows the difference between a good healer and a bad one.
If you are over healing a lot, you are wasting mana or you are over geared for the content and can get away with it. Once he started looking at what was needed and casting the smaller heal, a nearly cost neutral heal, his total healing nearly doubled because he had more mana for longer and it was then when he needed it for the big healing moments when all the other healers were OOM that his numbers went through the roof. I told him that healing when it was needed can really boost his numbers and told him one day I would run with him on one of my healers and show him what I mean.
So for fun one weekend later I went into the LFR with him on my priest and showed him that when you heal is the most important thing when you look at it from a numbers perspective only. I know it was wrong of me to do what I did but I wanted to stress a point.
I did not heal like crazy, I figured there were five other healers there to do that. I healed only when I knew it would be needed most. Nothing more. I cheesed the healing meters so to speak. I ended the first fight with number one healing done and 160K HPS.
He said that was impossible, how did I manage that. I said, no it is not impossible, it was because 90% of the healers in the game do not know how to manage their mana. I only healed for the big moments early on, to get some huge boosts, and I went hog wild at the end with all my cooldowns when I knew everyone else would be out of mana and I could get the maximum effect out of my heals. It basically comes down to I only healed people when they needed to be healed. And at the end of the fight when everyone else had no mana, they would all need to be healed, a lot, and that is exactly what I did. I cheesed it completely, just to prove a point. I do not support meter cheesing.
See, it was not that I am a good healer, if anything I was doing the worst thing a healer could ever do there, I was being a bad healer, I waited until the last moment just to get numbers. I think that makes me a horrible healer. But the point was, to only heal people when they need to be healed. It saved mana, and it gives you more bang for your buck. 160K HPS and ending the fight top healing done and best per second numbers I have ever seen in an LFR while still over 50% mana is proof that healing only when healing is needed will surely get you more bang for your buck.
It all comes down to mana and by abusing the broken system I got those numbers. The people in there were the better players, for lack of another more accurate word, and they still were doing badly all thanks to mana issues. So badly that someone like myself could abuse that to make myself look better than I really am.
He has me to teach him, I had others to teach me, so we know some of the things that matter, like mana management. I might not be a great healer but I know there is a lot more to healing then just healing the person that needs heals because I learned and now I teach that. Most people don't learn and never will have someone to teach them and the LF* system will assure they never will have someone to teach them. They will just jump in and sink or swim. Some will find their own way by learning and reading and practice, others will have someone help teach them and most will just give up and quit and put us in the situation we are in, a world with no healers for the looking for raid.
If those people were the better players and having so many issues, you have to think that is exactly why there are no healers in the LFR and we wait forever. If the better healers are having all types of issues with it how do the average joe healers have a prayer of doing anything in them? They would be OOM even faster, they would feel useless even quicker, they would get blamed even more brutally.
Want to have more healers, fix mana. Make mana a non-issue. Make it not matter, or a least matter a lot less. Make mana management like threat management. It used to be a huge issue for tanks but it is now a minor issue. Sometimes you will still run into situations where you have threat problems but they will be few and far between. Make mana more like that, sometimes you might have mana issue but they would be few and far between.
Let healers cast all they want to cast as often as they want to cast it. You would see an influx of healers joining the game if it were not for the fact that everyone falls into the OOM trap so quickly, more so when they are at the start of a new stage gearing. Let them spam their expensive fast heal all day long. Just design the heals so that the more cost effective longer heal has an added bonus that the good players will take advantage of but the lesser players could still heal just spaming flash heal all day long and feeling as if they are contributing in a substantial and meaningful way.
In the end, the truly good players would shine because they would get more bang for their buck and you would see it through the over heals more so than you do now but the average player, which is truly a horrible player, can and will still be able to contribute.
When you wonder where the healers are I don't. I know where they are because they are where I am on my healers lately. I am not in the LFR because I got sick and tired of doing all the work and being the only person there that actually made sure I had enough mana for the entire fight. Make mana a non issue, so I have help for the whole fight and don't feel the pressure of the entire raid is on my shoulders in the closing seconds of the fight when everyone is dreadfully low because everyone is OOM. Let these people be able to cast for the entire fight instead of only the first third of it. Give up on the managing mana concept, the masses just will never get it. Make mana a non issue and the healers will return in droves.
Do you see why I said there was nothing to talk about? It, in my opinion, was a quick answer, mana. Healing in and of itself is not hard if you have a decent group. It is actually very easy if you have a good group. As long as you knew how to manage your mana. But most groups are not good and most players can not figure out how to manage their mana. The bad groups standing in things blizzard can not fix, that is a player problem, but they can remove the mana issue and they should. And we would see a lot more healers around if they did.
Do you agree that the reason we see so few healers is the mana issue or is there some other reason you think there is a lack of healers out there? Would love to hear another perspective on why there are so few healers out there willing to queue for the LFR.