Health Care Workforce Woes

In case it wasn’t obvious to anyone who lives in or works with rural communities, an article in the Sunday WI State Journal describes what I believe is the most significant crisis in rural health care: workforce.  Life and Death in Park Falls describes the difficulty in recruiting providers in rural communities and the impact shortages can have.  Provider shortages exist across all professions and fields, including dentists, physicians, even EMS.

There are a number of programs that seek to address this problem, many at the local level.  For example, the Monroe Clinic (in Monroe) offers two types of scholarships for students pursuing a career in health care.  Volunteers in Partnership awards $500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors.  They will also award $1,500 scholarships to students who have completed at least one year of study beyond high school, e.g., technical college or four-year university.  More information is on the website.  Submit applications by March 15.  The Indian Health Service funds three scholarship programs for American Indian and Alaska Native students enrolled in health profession programs, including nursing, medicine and pharmacy.  The application deadline is March 28.

Two of my colleagues at the Office of Rural Health are full time recruiters.  Randy Munson works with physicians and Marsha Siik recruits dentists and physical therapists; both work with rural and urban clinics and hospitals.  Their websites have information on available positions and tools communities can use to improve recruitment.  I manage the Wisconsin Health Professions Loan Assistance Program, which awards up to $50,000 to providers who work for at least three years in an underserved area.  Eligible providers include physicians, dentists, NPs, PAs, nurse midwives, dentists and dental hygienists.  Applications are due each year by November 1, but I’m currently accepting applications for awards.

The Office of Rural Health has also collaborated with the Rural WI Health Cooperative to produce a toolkit communities can use to “grow their own” health care workforce.  We designed Club Scrub to expose middle school students to health care careers in a way that engages them and opens their minds to possibilities in career choices that they may not have considered.  The Toolkit has everything you will need- forms, letters, and lesson plans.  You can download the entire tool kit on our website.

The Association for Community Health Improvement is a membership organization that provides members with a variety of resources.  They will host a webinar April 22, Improving Health with Community Health Workers.  Representatives from several communities will discuss the benefits of these health care professionals working in underserved communities.  There is evidence they provide significant savings in health care costs by encouraging individuals to better manage their health.  There is a fee to participate.  This may be an alternative provider system for your community.

Here are two opportunities to gain recognition for your own great work in health care, or the work of someone you know.

  • The Rural WI Health Cooperative is accepting submissions for the 18th annual Hermes Monato, Jr. Prize.  They will award $2,000 for the best paper by a University of Wisconsin student (any campus) on rural health.  They encourage students to submit papers they have previously written for a class.  Papers are due April 15.
  • The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving is accepting nominations through July 1 for the Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award, which “recognizes leadership in implementing innovative partnerships between community agencies and caregiving researchers that bridge the gap between science and practice.”  They look for partnerships that effectively reach the target populations and have the potential to serve as a model for others in efforts to better support caregivers.

March 9, 2010 · KJacobson · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Conferences and Webinars, Program Updates, Provider Loan Repayment

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