Hawai‘i lacks the number of skilled professionals needed to meet current and future healthcare demands. In order to meet the growing needs of Hawai‘i's residents, the Workforce Development Council, a state agency attached to the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, is looking to expand the primary care workforce 20% by the year 2020. Using funds from a Healthcare Workforce Planning grant, the state formed several Healthcare Industry Skill Panels, a workforce development best practice from the State of Washington, to address the gap in healthcare services and healthcare workforce opportunities for Hawai‘i residents. Over 150 stakeholders—from employers, education, the public workforce system, economic development and labor—contributed their time and expertise to identify current workforce issues and develop action-oriented strategies to close industry skill gaps. So far these Skill Panels have developed a Critical Care Nursing Course Curriculum, a Workforce Readiness Curriculum and Certification pilot project, and a group to address specific barriers that are impeding Certified Nurse Aides (CNA). Upcoming initiatives include the distribution of a comprehensive statewide healthcare workforce development plan entitled Hawai‘i's Healthcare Workforce 20/20 Plan & Report: Addendum to the Comprehensive State Plan for Workforce Development 2009–2014, and the creation of HawaiiHealthCareers.org, a website to both recruit and support individuals interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare industry.
As many countries face primary care medical workforce shortages and find it difficult to provide timely and affordable care they seek to find new ways of delivering first point of contact health care through developing new service models. In common with other areas of rural and regional Australia, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is currently experiencing a general practitioner (GP) workforce shortage which impacts significantly on the ability of patients to access GP led primary care services. The introduction of a nurse led primary care Walk-in Centre in the ACT aimed to fulfill an unmet health care need in the community and meet projected demand for health care services as well as relieve pressure on the hospital system. Stakeholders have the potential to influence health service planning and policy, to advise on the potential of services to meet population health needs and to assess how acceptable health service innovation is to key stakeholder groups. This study aimed to ascertain the views of key stakeholders about the Walk-in Centre.
Stakeholders were purposively selected through the identification of individuals and organisations which had organisational or professional contact with the Walk-in Centre. Semi structured interviews around key themes were conducted with seventeen stakeholders.
Stakeholders were generally supportive of the Walk-in Centre but identified key areas which they considered needed to be addressed. These included the service's systems, full utilisation of the nurse practitioner role and adequate education and training. It was also suggested that a doctor could be available to the Centre as a source of referral for patients who fall outside the nurses' scope of practice. The location of the Centre was seen to impact on patient flows to the Emergency Department.
Nurse led Walk-in Centres are one response to addressing primary health care medical workforce shortages. Whilst some stakeholders have reservations about the model others are supportive and see the potential the model has to provide accessible primary health care. Any further developments of nurse-led Walk-in Centres need to take into account the views of key stakeholders so as to ensure that the model is acceptable and sustainable.
Australia is currently experiencing widespread shortages of psychiatrists. The changing nature of the workforce and increasing demand mean that these shortages are unlikely to ease. This study aims to identify demographic change and retirement patterns of the Australian psychiatry workforce from 1995 to 2003, and the implications of those changes for future workforce planning.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Medical Labour Force Survey from 1995 to 2003 is used to examine ageing of the psychiatry workforce and attrition of psychiatrists aged 50 years and over. Future attrition from the workforce is projected to 2025.
Sixty two percent of psychiatrists practicing in the year 2000 are predicted to have retired by 2025. Most psychiatrists continue to work until late in life, with only 18 per cent retiring before age 65. The psychiatry workforce aged significantly between 1995 and 2003 (p < 0.001), with men older than women in both years. A reduction in hours worked by psychiatrists reflects both the increasing proportion of females and the older members of the profession reducing their hours in preparation for retirement.
The impact of ageing of the workforce may be more immediate for psychiatry than for some other health professions. With the growing proportion of females and their typically lower workforce participation, more than one younger psychiatrist will be required to replace each of the mostly male retirees.
Rural communities throughout Australia are experiencing demographic ageing, increasing burden of chronic diseases, and de-population. Many are struggling to maintain viable health care services due to lack of infrastructure and workforce shortages. Hence, they face significant health disadvantages compared with urban regions. Primary health care yields the best health outcomes in situations characterised by limited resources. However, few rigorous longitudinal evaluations have been conducted to systematise them; assess their transferability; or assess sustainability amidst dynamic health policy environments. This paper describes the study protocol of a comprehensive longitudinal evaluation of a successful primary health care service in a small rural Australian community to assess its performance, sustainability, and responsiveness to changing community needs and health system requirements.
The evaluation framework aims to examine the health service over a six-year period in terms of: (a) Structural domains (health service performance; sustainability; and quality of care); (b) Process domains (health service utilisation and satisfaction); and (c) Outcome domains (health behaviours, health outcomes and community viability). Significant international research guided the development of unambiguous reliable indicators for each domain that can be routinely and unobtrusively collected. Data are to be collected and analysed for trends from a range of sources: audits, community surveys, interviews and focus group discussions.
This iterative evaluation framework and methodology aims to ensure the ongoing monitoring of service activity and health outcomes that allows researchers, providers and administrators to assess the extent to which health service objectives are met; the factors that helped or hindered achievements; what worked or did not work well and why; what aspects of the service could be improved and how; what benefits have been realised and for whom; the level of community satisfaction with the service; and the impact of a health service on community viability. While the need to reduce the rural-urban health service disparity in Australia is pressing, the evidence regarding how to move forward is inadequate. This comprehensive evaluation will add significant new knowledge regarding the characteristics associated with a sustainable rural primary health care service.
In common with other jurisdictions, Alberta faces challenges in ensuring a balance in health worker supply and demand. As the provider organization with province-wide responsibility, Alberta Health Services needed to develop a forecasting tool to inform its position on key workforce parameters, in the first instance focused on modeling the situation for Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and health care aides. This case study describes the development of the model, highlighting the choices involved in model development.
A workforce planning model was developed to test the effect of different assumptions (for instance about vacancy rates or retirement) and different policy choices (for example about the size of intakes into universities and colleges, different composition of the workforce). This case study describes the choices involved in designing the model. The workforce planning model was used as part of a consultation process and to develop six scenarios (based on different policy choices).
Discussion and evaluation
The model outputs highlighted the problems with continuation of current workforce strategies and the impact of key policy choices on workforce parameters.
Models which allow for transparency of the underlying assumptions, and the ability to assess the sensitivity of assumptions and the impact of policy choices are required for effective workforce planning.
The formation of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) and the National Preventative Task Force in 2008, demonstrate a renewed Australian Government commitment to health reform. The re-focus on prevention, bringing it to the centre of health care has significant implications for health service delivery in the primary health care setting, supportive organisational structures and continuing professional development for the existing clinical and public health workforce. It is an opportune time, therefore, to consider new approaches to workforce development aligned to health policy reform. Regardless of the actual recommendations from the NHHRC in June 2009, there will be an emphasis on performance improvements which are accountable and aligned to new preventive health policy, organisational priorites and anticipated improved health outcomes.
To achieve this objective there will be a need for the existing population health workforce, primary health care and non-government sectors to increase their knowledge and understanding of prevention, promotion and protection theory and practice within new organisational frameworks and linked to the community. This shift needs to be part of a national health services research agenda, infrastructure and funding which is supportive of quality continuing professional development.
This paper discusses policy and practice issues related to workforce development as part of an integrated response to the preventive agenda.
Widespread adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) is a key strategy to meet the challenges facing health systems internationally of increasing demands, rising costs, limited resources and workforce shortages. Despite the rapid increase in ICT investment, uptake and acceptance has been slow and the benefits fewer than expected. Absent from the research literature has been a multi-site investigation of how ICT can support and drive innovative work practice. This Australian-based project will assess the factors that allow health service organisations to harness ICT, and the extent to which such systems drive the creation of new sustainable models of service delivery which increase capacity and provide rapid, safe, effective, affordable and sustainable health care.
A multi-method approach will measure current ICT impact on workforce practices and develop and test new models of ICT use which support innovations in work practice. The research will focus on three large-scale commercial ICT systems being adopted in Australia and other countries: computerised ordering systems, ambulatory electronic medical record systems, and emergency medicine information systems. We will measure and analyse each system's role in supporting five key attributes of work practice innovation: changes in professionals' roles and responsibilities; integration of best practice into routine care; safe care practices; team-based care delivery; and active involvement of consumers in care.
A socio-technical approach to the use of ICT will be adopted to examine and interpret the workforce and organisational complexities of the health sector. The project will also focus on ICT as a potentially disruptive innovation that challenges the way in which health care is delivered and consequently leads some health professionals to view it as a threat to traditional roles and responsibilities and a risk to existing models of care delivery. Such views have stifled debate as well as wider explorations of ICT's potential benefits, yet firm evidence of the effects of role changes on health service outcomes is limited. This project will provide important evidence about the role of ICT in supporting new models of care delivery across multiple healthcare organizations and about the ways in which innovative work practice change is diffused.
This paper reviews the challenges facing the public health workforce in developing countries and the main policy issues that must be addressed in order to strengthen the public health workforce. The public health workforce is diverse and includes all those whose prime responsibility is the provision of core public health activities, irrespective of their organizational base. Although the public health workforce is central to the performance of health systems, very little is known about its composition, training or performance. The key policy question is: Should governments invest more in building and supporting the public health workforce and infrastructure to ensure the more effective functioning of health systems? Other questions concern: the nature of the public health workforce, including its size, composition, skills, training needs, current functions and performance; the appropriate roles of the workforce; and how the workforce can be strengthened to support new approaches to priority health problems.
The available evidence to shed light on these policy issues is limited. The World Health Organization is supporting the development of evidence to inform discussion on the best approaches to strengthening public health capacity in developing countries. WHO's priorities are to build an evidence base on the size and structure of the public health workforce, beginning with ongoing data collection activities, and to map the current public health training programmes in developing countries and in Central and Eastern Europe. Other steps will include developing a consensus on the desired functions and activities of the public health workforce and developing a framework and methods for assisting countries to assess and enhance the performance of public health training institutions and of the public health workforce.
Recruitment and retention of general practitioners (GPs) has become an issue of major concern in recent years. However, much of the evidence is anecdotal and some commentators continue to question the scale of workforce problems. Hence, there is a need to establish a clear picture of those instabilities (i.e. imbalances between demand and supply) that do exist in the GP labour market in the UK. Based on a review of the published literature, we identify problems that stem from: (i) the changing social composition of the workforce and the fact that a large proportion of qualified GPs are significantly underutilized within traditional career structures; and (ii) the considerable differences in the ability of local areas to match labour demand and supply. We argue that one way to address these problems would be to encourage greater flexibility in a number of areas highlighted in the literature: (i) time commitment across the working day and week; (ii) long-term career paths; (iii) training and education; and (iv) remuneration and contract conditions. Overall, although the evidence suggests that the predicted 'crisis' has not yet occurred in the GP labour market as a whole, there is no room for lack of imagination in planning terms. Workforce planners continue to emphasize national changes to the medical school intake as the means to balance labour demand and supply between the specialities; however, better retention and deployment of existing GP labour would arguably produce more effective supply-side solutions. In this context, current policy and practice developments (e.g. Primary Care Groups and Primary Care Act Pilot Sites) offer a unique learning base upon which to move forward.
This study examines growth in the primary care physician workforce for children and examines the geographic distribution of the workforce.
National data were used to calculate the local per-capita supply of clinically active general pediatricians and family physicians, measured at the level of primary care service areas.
Between 1996 and 2006, the general pediatrician and family physician workforces expanded by 51% and 35%, respectively, whereas the child population increased by only 9%. The 2006 per-capita supply varied by >600% across local primary care markets. Nearly 15 million children (20% of the US child population) lived in local markets with <710 children per child physician (average of 141 child physicians per 100 000 children), whereas another 15 million lived in areas with >4400 children per child physician (average of 22 child physicians per 100 000 children). In addition, almost 1 million children lived in areas with no local child physician. Nearly all 50 states had evidence of similar extremes of physician maldistribution.
Undirected growth of the aggregate child physician workforce has resulted in profound maldistribution of physician resources. Accountability for public funding of physician training should include efforts to develop, to use, and to evaluate policies aimed at reducing disparities in geographic access to primary care physicians for children.
physician workforce; primary care; access to care; health policy
The health workforce in Australia is ageing, particularly in rural areas, where this change will have the most immediate implications for health care delivery and workforce needs. In rural areas, the sustainability of health services will be dependent upon nurses and allied health workers being willing to work beyond middle age, yet the particular challenges for older health workers in rural Australia are not well known. The purpose of this research was to identify aspects of work that have become more difficult for rural health workers as they have become older; and the age-related changes and exacerbating factors that contribute to these difficulties. Findings will support efforts to make workplaces more 'user-friendly' for older health workers.
Nurses and allied health workers aged 50 years and over were invited to attend one of six local workshops held in the Hunter New England region of NSW, Australia. This qualitative action research project used a focus group methodology and thematic content analysis to identify and interpret issues arising from workshop discussions.
Eighty older health workers from a range of disciplines attended the workshops. Tasks and aspects of work that have become more difficult for older health workers in hospital settings, include reading labels and administering medications; hearing patients and colleagues; manual handling; particular movements and postures; shift work; delivery of babies; patient exercises and suturing. In community settings, difficulties relate to vehicle use and home visiting. Significant issues across settings include ongoing education, work with computers and general fatigue. Wider personal challenges include coping with change, balancing work-life commitments, dealing with attachments and meeting goals and expectations. Work and age-related factors that exacerbate difficulties include vision and hearing deficits, increasing tiredness, more complex professional roles and a sense of not being valued in the context of greater perceived workload.
Older health workers are managing a range of issues, on top of the general challenges of rural practice. Personal health, wellbeing and other realms of life appear to take on increasing importance for older health workers when faced with increasing difficulties at work. Solutions need to address difficulties at personal, workplace and system wide levels.
In Canada, workforce shortages in the health care sector constrain the ability of the health care system to meet the needs of its population and of its health care professionals. This issue is of particular importance in peripheral regions of Quebec, where significant inequalities in workforce distribution between regions has lead to acute nursing shortages and increased workloads. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are innovative solutions that can be used to develop strategies to optimise the use of available resources and to design new nursing work practices. However, current knowledge is still limited about the real impact of ICTs on nursing recruitment and retention. Our aim is to better understand how work practice reorganization, supported by ICTs, and particularly by telehealth, may influence professional, educational, and organizational factors relating to Quebec nurses, notably those working in peripheral regions.
First, we will conduct a descriptive study on the issue of nursing recruitment. Stratified sampling will be used to select approximately twenty innovative projects relating to the reorganization of work practices based upon ICTs. Semi-structured interviews with key informants will determine professional, educational, and organizational recruitment factors. The results will be used to create a questionnaire which, using a convenience sampling method, will be mailed to 600 third year students and recent graduates of two Quebec university nursing faculties. Descriptive, correlation, and hierarchical regression analyses will be performed to identify factors influencing nursing graduates' intentions to practice in peripheral regions. Secondly, we will conduct five case studies pertaining to the issue of nursing retention. Five ICT projects in semi-urban, rural, and isolated regions have been identified. Qualitative data will be collected through field observation and approximately fifty semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders.
Data from both parts of this research project will be jointly analysed using triangulation of researchers, theoretical approaches, methods, and results. Continuous exchanges with decision makers and periodic knowledge transfer activities are planned to facilitate the dissemination and utilization of research results in policies regarding the nursing recruitment and retention.
The candidates for the 2008 presidential election have offered a range of proposals that could bring significant changes in health care. Although few are aimed directly at the nurse and physician workforce, nearly all of the proposals have the potential to affect the health care workforce. Furthermore, the success of the proposed initiatives is dependent on a robust nurse and physician workforce. The purpose of this article is to outline the current needs and challenges for the nurse and physician workforce and highlight how candidates’ proposals intersect with the adequacy of the health care workforce. Three general themes are highlighted for their implications on the physician and nurse workforce supply, including (a) expansion of health care coverage, (b) workforce investment, and (c) cost control and quality improvement.
nursing; health care workforce issues; regulation of nursing practice; electoral/campaign activity; coverage/access
Bangladesh is one of the health workforce crisis countries in the world. In the face of an acute shortage of trained professionals, ensuring healthcare for a population of 150 million remains a major challenge for the nation. To understand the issues related to shortage of health workforce and healthcare provision, this paper investigates the role of various healthcare providers in provision of health services in Chakaria, a remote rural area in Bangladesh.
Data were collected through a survey carried out during February 2007 among 1,000 randomly selected households from 8 unions of Chakaria Upazila. Information on health-seeking behaviour was collected from 1 randomly chosen member of a household from those who fell sick during 14 days preceding the survey.
Around 44% of the villagers suffered from an illness during 14 days preceding the survey and of them 47% sought treatment for their ailment. 65% patients consulted Village Doctors and for 67% patients Village Doctors were the first line of care. Consultation with MBBS doctors was low at 14%. Given the morbidity level observed during the survey it was calculated that 250 physicians would be needed in Chakaria if the patients were to be attended by a qualified physician.
With the current shortage of physicians and level of production in the country it was asserted that it is very unlikely for Bangladesh to have adequate number of physicians in the near future. Thus, making use of existing healthcare providers, such as Village Doctors, could be considered a realistic option in dealing with the prevailing crisis.
The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) depends on sufficient supply of health workforce in each country. Although country-level data support this contention, it has been difficult to evaluate health workforce supply and MDG outcomes at the country level. The purpose of the study was to examine the association between the health workforce, particularly the nursing workforce, and the achievement of the MDGs, taking into account other factors known to influence health status, such as socioeconomic indicators.
A merged data set that includes country-level MDG outcomes, workforce statistics, and general socioeconomic indicators was utilized for the present study. Data were obtained from the Global Human Resources for Health Atlas 2004, the WHO Statistical Information System (WHOSIS) 2000, UN Fund for Development and Population Assistance (UNFDPA) 2000, the International Council of Nurses "Nursing in the World", and the WHO/UNAIDS database.
The main factors in understanding HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are physician density followed by female literacy rates and nursing density in the country. Using general linear model approaches, increased physician and nurse density (number of physicians or nurses per population) was associated with lower adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, even when controlling for socioeconomic indicators.
Increased nurse and physician density are associated with improved health outcomes, suggesting that countries aiming to attain the MDGs related to HIV/AIDS would do well to invest in their health workforce. Implications for international and country level policy are discussed.
Reports generated by the workforce information system can be used by ASCO and others in the oncology community to advocate for needed health care system and policy changes to help offset future workforce shortages.
In anticipation of oncologist workforce shortages projected as part of a 2007 study, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) worked with a contractor to create a workforce information system (WIS) to assemble the latest available data on oncologist supply and cancer incidence and prevalence. ASCO plans to publish findings annually, reporting on new data and tracking trends over time.
The WIS report is composed of three sections: supply, new entrants, and cancer incidence and prevalence. Tabulations of the number of oncologists in the United States are derived mainly from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile. Information on fellows and residents in the oncology workforce pipeline come from published sources such as Journal of the American Medical Association. Incidence and prevalence estimates are published by the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute.
The WIS reports a total of 13,084 oncologists working in the United States in 2011. Oncologists are defined as those physicians who designate hematology, hematology/oncology, or medical oncology as their specialty. The WIS compares the characteristics of these oncologists with those of all physicians and tracks emerging trends in the physician training pipeline.
Observing characteristics of the oncologist workforce over time allows ASCO to identify, prioritize, and evaluate its workforce initiatives. Accessible figures and reports generated by the WIS can be used by ASCO and others in the oncology community to advocate for needed health care system and policy changes to help offset future workforce shortages.
Objective: Effective interventions to improve population and individual health require environmental change as well as strategies that target individual behaviours and clinical factors. This is the basis of implementing an ecological approach to health programs and health promotion. For Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders, colonisation has made the physical and social environment particularly detrimental for health. Methods and Results: We conducted a literature review to identify Aboriginal health interventions that targeted environmental determinants of health, identifying 21 different health programs. Program activities that targeted environmental determinants of health included: Caring for Country; changes to food supply and/or policy; infrastructure for physical activity; housing construction and maintenance; anti-smoking policies; increased workforce capacity; continuous quality improvement of clinical systems; petrol substitution; and income management. Targets were categorised according to Miller’s Living Systems Theory. Researchers using an Indigenous community based perspective more often identified interpersonal and community-level targets than were identified using a Western academic perspective. Conclusions: Although there are relatively few papers describing interventions that target environmental determinants of health, many of these addressed such determinants at multiple levels, consistent to some degree with an ecological approach. Interpretation of program targets sometimes differed between academic and community-based perspectives, and was limited by the type of data reported in the journal articles, highlighting the need for local Indigenous knowledge for accurate program evaluation. Implications: While an ecological approach to Indigenous health is increasingly evident in the health research literature, the design and evaluation of such programs requires a wide breadth of expertise, including local Indigenous knowledge.
indigenous health; environmental determinants; evaluation
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the need for downsizing the physician workforce in a changing health care environment. METHODS: First assuming that 1993 physician-to-population ratios would be maintained, the authors derived downsizing estimates by determining the annual growth in the supply of specialists necessary to maintain these ratios (sum of losses from death and retirement plus increase necessary to parallel population growth) and compared them with an estimate of the number of new physicians being produced (average annual number of board certificates issued between 1990 and 1994). Then, assuming that workforce needs would change in a system increasingly dominated by managed care, the authors estimated specialty-specific downsizing needs for a managed care dominated environment using data from several sources. RESULTS: To maintain the 1993 199.6 active physicians per 100,000 population ratio, 14,644 new physicians would be needed each year. Given that an average of 20,655 physicians were certified each year between 1990 and 1994, at least 6011 fewer new physicians were needed annually to maintain 1993 levels. To maintain the 132.2 ratio of active non-primary care physicians per 100,000 population, the system needed to produce 9698 non-primary care physicians per year, because an average of 14,527 new non-primary care physicians entered the workforce between 1990 and 1994, downsizing by 4829, or 33%, was needed. To maintain the 66.8 active primary care physicians per 100,000 population ratio, 4946 new primary care physicians were needed per year, since primary care averaged 6128 new certifications per year, a downsizing of 1182, or 20% was indicated. Only family practice, neurosurgery, otolaryngology, and urology did not require downsizing. Seventeen medical and hospital-based specialties, including 7 of 10 internal medicine subspecialties, needed downsizing by at least 40%. Less downsizing in general was needed in the surgical specialties and in psychiatry. A managed care dominated-system would call for greater downsizing in most of the non-primary care specialties. CONCLUSION: These data support the need for downsizing the nation's physician supply, especially in the internal medicine subspecialties and hospital support specialties and to a lesser extent among surgeons and primary care physicians.
The ability to sustain comprehensive primary health care (PHC) services in the face of change is crucial to the health of rural communities. This paper illustrates how one service has proactively managed change to remain sustainable.
A 6-year longitudinal evaluation of the Elmore Primary Health Service (EPHS) located in rural Victoria, Australia, is currently underway, examining the performance, quality and sustainability of the service. Threats to, and enablers of, sustainability have been identified from evaluation data (audit of service indicators, community surveys, key stakeholder interviews and focus groups) and our own observations. These are mapped against an overarching framework of service sustainability requirements: workforce organisation and supply; funding; governance, management and leadership; service linkages; and infrastructure.
Four years into the evaluation, the evidence indicates EPHS has responded effectively to external and internal changes to ensure viability. The specific steps taken by the service to address risks and capitalise on opportunities are identified.
This evaluation highlights lessons for health service providers, policymakers, consumers and researchers about the importance of ongoing monitoring of sentinel service indicators; being attentive to changes that have an impact on sustainability; maintaining community involvement; and succession planning.
The shortage of physicians and resultant lack of access to care particularly on the rural neighbor islands of Hawai‘i has been well described. A recent report in the December issue of this journal by Withy, et al. documents a current shortage of 45 physicians on the Big Island.1 Similar reports suggest that Hawai‘i's physician workforce lags 20% behind physician to population ratios in the continental US. It is projected that the aging population and the heavy burden of chronic disease will increase demand for health services by 40% by 2020 and even higher for specialties that focus on the care of elders. The existing physician shortage is heightened by the high percentage of doctors reaching retirement age. High business and living costs coupled with low reimbursement for health services makes it difficult to be competitive when recruiting physicians to Hawai‘i. Are there evidence based solutions to the state rural primary care workforce crisis? This article describes what is currently in place as well as new initiatives and a ten point plan to lay the framework for an improved state rural training pipeline.
Human resources are an essential element of a health system's inputs, and yet there is a huge disparity among countries in how human resource policies and strategies are developed and implemented. The analysis of the impacts of services on population health and well-being attracts more interest than analysis of the situation of the workforce in this area. This article presents an international comparison of the health workforce in terms of skill mix, sociodemographics and other labour force characteristics, in order to establish an evidence base for monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health.
Profiles of the health workforce are drawn for 18 countries with developed market and transitional economies, using data from labour force and income surveys compiled by the Luxembourg Income Study between 1989 and 1997. Further descriptive analyses of the health workforce are conducted for selected countries for which more detailed occupational information was available.
Considerable cross-national variations were observed in terms of the share of the health workforce in the total labour market, with little discernible pattern by geographical region or type of economy. Increases in the share were found among most countries for which time-trend data were available. Large gender imbalances were often seen in terms of occupational distribution and earnings. In some cases, health professionals, especially physicians, were overrepresented among the foreign-born compared to the total labour force.
While differences across countries in the profile of the health workforce can be linked to the history and role of the health sector, at the same time some common patterns emerge, notably a growing trend of health occupations in the labour market. The evidence also suggests that gender inequity in the workforce remains an important shortcoming of many health systems. Certain unexpected patterns of occupational distribution and educational attainment were found that may be attributable to differences in health care delivery and education systems; however, definitional inconsistencies in the classification of health occupations across surveys were also apparent.
Population ageing is poised to become a major challenge to the health system as Malaysia progresses to becoming a developed nation by 2020. This article aims to review the various ageing policy frameworks available globally; compare aged care policies and health services in Malaysia with Australia; and discuss various issues and challenges in translating these policies into practice in the Malaysian primary care system. Fundamental solutions identified to bridge the gap include restructuring of the health care system, development of comprehensive benefit packages for older people under the national health financing scheme, training of the primary care workforce, effective use of electronic medical records and clinical guidelines; and empowering older people and their caregivers with knowledge, skills and positive attitudes to ageing and self care. Ultimately, family medicine specialists must become the agents for change to lead multidisciplinary teams and work with various agencies to ensure that better coordination, continuity and quality of care are eventually delivered to older patients across time and settings.
To establish and sustain the high-performing health care system envisioned in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), current provisions in the law to strengthen the primary care workforce must be funded, implemented, and tested. However, the United States is heading towards a severe primary care workforce bottleneck due to ballooning demand and vanishing supply. Demand will be fueled by the “silver tsunami” of 80 million Americans retiring over the next 20 years and the expanded insurance coverage for 32 million Americans in the ACA. The primary care workforce is declining because of decreased production and accelerated attrition. To mitigate the looming primary care bottleneck, even bolder policies will be needed to attract, train, and sustain a sufficient number of primary care professionals. General internists must continue their vital leadership in this effort.
primary care; workforce; health reform; health policy
Increasing demands for podiatry combined with workforce shortages due to attrition, part-time working practices and rural healthcare shortages means that in some geographic areas in Australia there are insufficient professionals to meet service demand. Although podiatry assistants have been introduced to help relieve workforce shortages there has been little evaluation of their impact on patient, staff and/or service outcomes. This research explores the processes and outcomes of a ‘trainee’ approach to introducing a podiatry assistant (PA) role to a community setting in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government Health Service Directorate.
A qualitative methodology was employed involving interviews and focus groups with service managers, qualified practitioners, the assistant, service users and consumer representatives. Perspectives of the implementation process; the traineeship approach; the underlying mechanisms that help or hinder the implementation process; and the perceived impact of the role were explored. Data were analysed using the Richie and Spencer Framework approach.
Although the impact of the PA role had not been measured at the time of the evaluation, the implementation of the PA traineeship was considered a success in terms of enabling the transfer of a basic foot-care service from nursing back to podiatry; releasing Enrolled Nurses (ENs) from foot-care duties; an increase in the number of treatments delivered by the podiatry service; and high levels of stakeholder satisfaction with the role. It was perceived that the transfer of the basic foot-care role from nursing to podiatry through the use of a PA impacted on communication and feedback loops between the PA and the podiatry service; the nursing-podiatry relationship; clinical governance around the foot-care service; and continuity of care for clients through the podiatry service. The traineeship was considered successful in terms of producing a PA whose skills were shaped by and directly met the needs of the practitioners with whom they worked. However, the resource intensiveness of the traineeship model was acknowledged by most who participated in the programme.
This research has demonstrated that the implementation of a PA using a traineeship approach requires good coordination and communication with a number of agencies and staff and substantial resources to support training and supervision. There are added benefits of the new role to the podiatry service in terms of regaining control over podiatric services which was perceived to improve clinical governance and patient pathways.
Internationally, the health workforce has undergone rapid transformation to help meet growing staffing demands and population requirements. Several tools have been developed to support workforce change processes. The Calderdale Framework (CF) is one such tool designed to facilitate competency-based training by engaging team members in a seven step process involving awareness raising, service and task analysis, competency identification, establishing support systems, training, and sustaining. This paper explores the utility of the CF as an appraisal tool to assess whether adherence to the tool influences outcomes. The CF was applied retrospectively to three complete evaluations of allied health assistant role introduction: a new podiatry assistant role (Australia), speech pathology assistant (Australia), and occupational therapy assistant practitioner role (UK). Adherence to the CF was associated with more effective and efficient use of the role, role flexibility and career development opportunities for assistants, and role sustainability. Services are less likely to succeed in their workforce change process if they fail to plan for and use a structured approach to change, assign targeted leadership, undertake staff engagement and consultation, and perform an initial service analysis. The CF provides a clear template for appraising the implementation of new roles and highlights the potential consequences of not adhering to particular steps in the implementation process.
workforce change; allied health; assistant practitioner; Calderdale Framework; evaluation; podiatry; occupational therapy; speech pathology