Report: California Health Worker Shortage Threatens Residents
A shortage of nurses and allied health professionals is expected to worsen as training programs fail to keep pace with an aging and expanding population in California, according to a study released Monday by the Campaign for College Opportunity, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The report profiled 15 allied health professions that are filling about half of their vacancies annually (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/6). Allied health professions account for 60% of all health care jobs (Klampe, Ventura County Star, 11/6).
Researchers note that the state's senior citizen population is projected to increase by 3.2 million by 2020 as some allied health professions are experiencing an 85% shortage of students (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 11/5).
Ed O'Neil, a UC-San Francisco professor who helped conduct the study, said the shortages are "likely to endanger some aspect of every Californian's health" (Krupnick, Contra Costa Times, 11/5).
The careers with the greatest estimated annual shortages are clinical laboratory scientists, physical therapy assistants and dental hygienists, according to the report (East Bay Business Times, 11/5).
The study, funded by Kaiser Permanente and the California Wellness Foundation, attributed the shortage to:
- A lack of college courses;
- High dropout rates in health care college programs; and
- Low retention rates at medical offices and hospitals (Los Angeles Daily News, 11/5).
Researchers recommended that California's 109 community colleges expand classes in nursing and other allied health fields to help reduce the growing shortage (Contra Costa Times, 11/5).
While many local colleges have expanded resources, there also is a shortage of instructors. As a result, O'Neil said, health care facilities are spending thousands of dollars to recruit workers from other states and countries, instead of investing in classes (Los Angeles Daily News, 11/5).
The report "is another clue to the disconnect between what's happening in California's six million-student system of public education and what's happening in the real world," Dan Walters writes in his Sacramento Bee column. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and "other politicians who are failing on their pledges to fix health care this year have proclaimed that they'll fix public education next year. Yeah, right," Walters concludes (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 11/6).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Monday reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Abdi Soltani, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 11/5).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.