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May 24, 2001

Attracting and Keeping Allied Care Workers

To help ease shortages of certified nursing assistants, home health aides, physical, respiratory, and speech therapists, radiologic technicians, laboratory technologists, emergency medical technicians, and other allied health care workers, the UCSF Center for the Health Professions is funding 22 model projects throughout California.

Grants ranging from $27,000 to $200,000 for 12-18 months will fund health care organizations, community-based agencies, and educational institutions that strive to attract, educate, and retain allied health workers and increase diversity and cultural competence of this work force, said Susan Chapman, UCSF Allied Health Workforce project director.

"Allied and auxiliary health care workers play a crucial, but often overlooked, role in the health care system. A shortage of these workers is creating a crisis for people seeking care and for hospitals, nursing homes, and home care agencies providing care," said Chapman. "We need to find radically new ways to train workers and then help them stay in health care and advance in their careers if they choose to do so."

The Allied Health Workforce Innovations for the 21st Century program was developed in response to a 1999 UCSF Center for the Health Professions study, which reported "that many allied and auxiliary health care occupations have high rates of job turnover, ill-defined and changing job expectations, low pay, and inadequate training," said Jonathan Showstack, principal investigator of the Allied Health Workforce Project.

Newly funded programs include a distance learning program in rural California, a labor-management health career pathway development project, a training curriculum for a new type of mental health worker, a cultural sensitivity training program for community health workers, and a mentoring program for workers providing in-home support services to the disabled and frail elderly. (See link below for list of the California organizations receiving funding.)

"The recruitment of new workers into allied health professions needs to begin with young students by increasing awareness of the variety of health care occupations available to them and by strengthening high school math and science curricula, so that students are adequately prepared to enter training programs," said Chapman.

The Allied Health Workforce Innovations for the 21st Century program is funded by the UCSF Center for the Health Professions through grants from The California Endowment and the California HealthCare Foundations. The mission of the UCSF Center for the Health Professions is to assist health care professionals, health professions schools, care delivery organizations and public policy makers respond to the challenges of educating and managing a health care workforce capable of improving health and well-being of people and their communities.

Links:
Allied Health Workforce Innovations for the 21st Century
Center for the Health Professions

Source: Maureen McInaney

 

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