Responding to the Wisconsin Health Workforce Crisis

Building a collaborative response to the health workforce shortage threatening communities statewide

Full Project Name:Collaborative Response to the Growing Wisconsin Health Workforce CrisisPrimary Community Organization:Wisconsin Health Workforce Data CollaborativePrimary Academic Partner:Peter Layde, MD, MSc, Emergency MedicineAward Amount:$300,000
Award Date
July2009
Project Duration:48 months

Project Description Narrative:


A healthy Wisconsin requires a sufficient, diverse, competent and sustainable health workforce. The public's health is dependent upon an adequate supply of personnel in all health settings. For years, health care analysts and economists have been predicting massive and growing shortages of health workers in the United States, yet Wisconsin has not conducted a comprehensive information-gathering process regarding the status and future of the health occupations around the state.

In addition, health professions educational programs, employers, and public agencies across the state have been unable to obtain workforce data and labor market projections adequate to inform decisions regarding the preparation, retention, and distribution of a sufficient workforce. Current estimates in Wisconsin base estimates for future shortages on relatively small sample sizes and have been mostly limited to the nursing profession, and efforts to gather and analyze data on labor markets and distribution of health professionals are uneven and uncoordinated.

The goal of this project is to address the health workforce shortage threatening our most vulnerable communities by providing the data collection and forecasting critically needed for workforce planning.

Community partners:
Center on Wisconsin Strategy, LeadingAge Wisconsin, Marquette University, Rural Wisconsin Health Collaborative, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers, Wisconsin Center for Nursing (WCN), Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS)-Division of Public Health (DPH), Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Health Care Association, Wisconsin Hospital Association, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, Wisconsin Public Health Association, Wisconsin Primary Care Association, Wisconsin Technical College System, Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Established Wisconsin's first organized, funded entity focusing on health care workforce data collection and forecasting

• Evaluated methodologies for collection and analysis of nursing workforce data, convening stakeholders to review questions and methodology for creating a nursing workforce supply survey. Used input to create and conduct a 2010 RN Survey in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Wisconsin Center for Nursing as part of the RN license renewal process

• Produced an "RN Survey Summary," distributing the survey results at a press conference and to health care agencies, policymakers, and the public as well as at leading organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation�Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing Summit and the National Forum of State Nursing Centers and RWJF Partners Investing in Nursing Conference. Disseminated results as a cover article in "Nursing Matters" and in the "Policy, Politics and Nursing Practice" peer-reviewed journal

• Conducted a 2010 Survey of Nursing Programs in Wisconsin, using data to profile nursing education programs, analyze trends, identify gaps, and create recommendations to improve current workforce issues. Convened a task force to address identified gaps and share information with educational programs

• Developed, in cooperation with leading Wisconsin workforce development agencies and field experts, the Clinical Laboratory Workforce Survey

• Established an inventory of current non-governmental public health agency workforce surveys, recommending additional data elements

• Expanded Wisconsin's capacity to designate eligible Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), conducting mental health and dental HPSA data collection and analysis to define dental HPSAs. Completed federal applications and obtained approval for eight new Wisconsin counties to obtain dental HPSA designation

• Developed data reports on dental provider and mental health workforce provider shortages by county, disseminating reports to stakeholders via website

• Expanded and improved an existing workforce forecassting tool that allows users to generate scenarios and change factors taht may affect future supply and demand of RNs in Wisconsin. Published a report titled "Wisconsin Registered Nurse Supply and Demand Forecasting Model: Technical Report" and the "Wisconsin Registered Nurse Supply and Demand Forecasting Model: Results Report," as well as an additional report with a scenario comparative analysis

• Presented project at various meetings and events, including the AAMC Physician Workforce Research Conference and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Workforce Summit

• Leveraged $169,000 through in-kind time from project partners

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