HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Health Workforce Plans: Fuzzy Futures?

Posted on | April 21, 2011 | No Comments

Mike Magee

Workforce Issues in health care have become a health policy career track over the past two decades. The issue has been studied and re-studied, usually as an addendem to the status-quo. The most recent study, from the Alliance for Health Reform with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation goes a bit farther but still tip toes around the real issues.(1)

You should read the report yourself. It’s based on two blue ribbon meetings in the fall of 2010, and the input of a range of career workforce experts. It boldly lays out part of the story:

1. 40% of physicians are over 55 and 33% of nurses are over 50.
2. Medical school debt averages $145,000 for public and $180,000 for private medical schools.
3. We are an aging society and the Affordable Care Act will soon add 32 million to our insured population.
4. Some estimates say we will have a 25% shortage of physicians by 2025 – if they continue to do the same work they have done for the past century.
5. The number of direct care workers (not physicians or nurses) is expected to increase by 2018 by 35%.
6. Doctors groups have blocked independent nursing practice in all but 11 states in the Union.
7. The current workforce is largely non-mobile (meaning a patient has to go to someone’s brick and mortar to access care). 40% of the workers are in hospitals; 21% in extended care facilities; and 16% in ambulatory offices.
8. Health care doesn’t need a stimulus package. Since the financial crisis hit in December, 2007, the nation lost 8.4 million people – while health care employment expanded by 732,000

The report also suggests quietly that the world is changing. (CONTINUE….)

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