Allied Health Workforce Issue Brief
Report addresses long-term need for allied health professionals

In 2007, the CHA Board of Trustees identified the allied health care workforce shortage as a state advocacy priority for 2008. Specifically, the Board directed CHA to increase awareness of severe allied health care workforce shortages through its public advocacy program. In response, CHA established the CHA Workforce Committee to identify and analyze the barriers to increasing the supply of allied health professionals in the state and to make recommendations that would address the shortages. The CHA Workforce Committee is chaired by Joanne Webster, director of human resources for the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, and consists of CHA members with knowledge and expertise in the area of health workforce planning. Committee members also represent a diverse cross-section of CHA member hospitals and health systems. (See attached CHA Workforce Committee Roster).

Over the last 18 months, the CHA Workforce Committee has been leading and directing the priorities, goals and activities of the CHA Healthcare Workforce Coalition. The coalition, convened by CHA, represents a broad statewide effort focused on addressing allied health professional shortages, specifically in clinical laboratory, medical imaging and hospital pharmacy. Members of the coalition include stakeholder groups such as the University of California (UC), California State University, California Community Colleges, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, UC San Francisco Center for the Health Professions, Campaign for College Opportunity, Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, and California Primary Care Association, among others. The coalition also includes workgroups dedicated to each occupational area of focus. Workgroup members have very specific expertise in the areas of laboratory, imaging or pharmacy, and are also derived from CHA’s membership as well as other stakeholder groups.

CHA is grateful to California hospital leaders who have supported the involvement of their human resources directors and workforce planners, as well as their laboratory, imaging and pharmacy directors in this effort. The accomplishments of the coalition to date would not have been possible without these dedicated and committed individuals.

To date, the coalition has accomplished the following goals:

  • Developed issue papers for each of the areas of focus (clinical laboratory, medical imaging and pharmacy) regarding the top-ranking barriers to increasing the supply of these professionals.
  • Garnered attention of The California Endowment resulting in a successful application for funding for the coalition.
  • Hosted a statewide event titled Partnering for Success: Addressing California’s Need for Qualified, Diverse Allied Health Professionals, with more than 200 attendees, including representatives from hospitals, educational institutions, state agencies and others.
  • Positioned the CHA Workforce Committee as a coordinated point of contact for obtaining information, input and recommendations from hospital employers regarding allied health workforce shortage issues.

The most recent accomplishment was the creation of the enclosed issue brief titled Allied Health: The Hidden Health Care Workforce. This brief is the culmination of work conducted by the CHA Workforce Committee and the Healthcare Workforce Coalition over the last year. It is intended to stimulate dialog among legislators, their staff, and industry, education and other stakeholders regarding the development of innovative strategies that will address the need for allied health professionals long term, so when the economy does recover California will have a qualified, culturally competent, allied health workforce to replace the legions of those who will eventually retire.

The coalition plans to release a follow up to this brief later this fall that will provide recommendations consistent with the needs of hospitals for allied health professionals given the current economic climate. Also, the CHA Public Advocacy Program will launch a campaign in late 2009 focused on the allied health workforce shortages, with the information and recommendations contained in the briefs providing a framework for the messaging of the campaign.

Please feel free to contact me at (916) 552-7511 or with any questions.