With an estimated 20 million people who have newly gained health insurance coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the nationwide network of health centers will play an increasingly prominent role in meeting the needs of the newly insured and remaining uninsured alike. But current estimates of primary care provider shortages loom large: 45-50,000 by 2025 for the nation as a whole.
Given this backdrop, NACHC, State and Regional Primary Care Associations (SRPCAs), and health centers must own a proactive approach to education, provider recruitment, onboarding, engagement, and retention. This approach should aim to support the existing workforce and attain, groom, and retain compassionate healers who provide excellent clinical care and feel professionally at home in a health center.
Two essential HRSA workforce programs, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program are helping. These programs supply health centers with dedicated and hardworking health care workers to address the primary care shortage and increase access to health care services for medically underserved communities.
NACHC is fully engaged in a long-term strategy to secure a primary care workforce that meets the needs of America’s health centers and their patients. At the national level, NACHC’s strategies are crafted to influence future and current students, and existing care team members. Questions about the nation’s clinical workforce supply, composition, and distribution require constant monitoring, with careful attention to their impact on health centers.
At the organizational level, all health centers should ask the following questions:
- What is the best staffing mix involving the care team?
- What resources do we need to provide our clinical staff?
- Who are the partners we need to work with to accomplish our workforce needs?
- How can we effectively use inter-professional education and training to achieve improved patient care?
Contact Katja Laepke with any questions.