Health Care Workforce Initiatives – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Health Care Workforce Initiatives

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For more information about this program please contact:

Wesley Epplin
Policy Director

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Health Care Workforce Initiatives

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In our work to improve the health of all people in Illinois, Health & Medicine recognizes that developing a robust, highly-trained, and culturally-competent health care workforce is central to achieving our mission. Our decades of leadership promoting the development of workforce policies and strengthening the health careers pipeline have made Health & Medicine Illinois’ leading health workforce research and policy organization.

Our workforce programming promotes policies and strategies to ensure that Illinois has the workforce necessary to meet the needs of a rapidly changing health system and an increasingly diverse population. Our efforts focus on the following areas working to shape and expand current policy while also developing the next generation of health care providers:

State Workforce Policy and Planning Initiatives
Health & Medicine has served as a lead stakeholder in all state and regional health workforce initiatives. Policy makers, state agencies, and advocates routinely turn to Health & Medicine for our workforce expertise, and our perspective helps inform and align the numerous ongoing reform initiatives in our region. Learn more about our policy and planning efforts and access workforce reports and resources here.

Advancing Community Health Workers in Illinois
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are an important health care workforce helping residents—often in underserved communities—manage chronic conditions, develop healthier lifestyles, and gain access to care. Health & Medicine has a long-standing commitment to the CHW model and has been a key player in the formation of CHW legislation at the state level, as well as supporting various CHW initiatives and collaborations. In 2014, we drafted and garnered support for a bill – the first of its kind in Illinois – formally recognizing CHWs as an integral part of our healthcare teams.

Today, we are excited to serve as the key convener developing a CHW learning collaborative in the western suburbs. The initiative seeks to address ongoing local need by increasing awareness of health and human service resources and connecting people to services. Focusing on 18 community areas in Chicago’s western suburbs, through the pilot four organizations will integrate new or additional CHWs into their workforce. These CHWs will receive training on core competencies, policy and advocacy, and other relevant topic areas and meet on a regular basis as a learning collaborative to strengthen their work and the impact of the initiative. In addition, Health & Medicine will continue to advocate at the state level and with health systems to strengthen the role and recognition of CHWs as integral to the healthcare team.

Chicago Area Health Education Center
Complementing our policy work, Health & Medicine administers the Chicago Area Health Education Center (AHEC), part of a national network that works to develop, train, and retain a diverse healthcare workforce. Chicago AHEC inspires Chicago high school students and community college students to enter the health professions by providing them with mentoring, job shadowing and other career development opportunities and connecting them with a Speakers Bureau comprised of underrepresented health professionals, reaching over 1,500 students last year. Learn more.

Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program
The Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program provides a platform for health professions graduate students to design and implement projects that improve the health of underserved populations in Chicago. Each year, 30 exceptional Fellows provide 200 hours of service, promoting their development as leaders in public service and helping to foster a workforce committed to serving the communities that need them most. Learn more.

Together, these initiatives help the State of Illinois to build a 21st century health workforce, a necessary part of ensuring access to healthcare for all people and eliminating health inequities in Illinois.