Study: Health Worker Shortage To Afflict Rural, Underserved Areas
Rural and underserved communities in California will be disproportionately affected by an expected shortage of health care workers, according to a report from the UC-San Francisco Center for the Health Professions, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
The expected shortage of medical professionals comes as four million to six million Californians become eligible for health coverage under the federal health reform law.
For the report, researchers analyzed data on the number of dentists, nurses, physicians and other health care professionals and examined how newly insured individuals might affect the workforce (Marcy, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/9).
The report found that coastal parts of the state -- such as San Francisco, and Los Angeles and Orange counties -- have more medical professionals and will be better prepared to cope with the anticipated increase in the number of patients.
The report noted that the shortage of health care workers is a chronic problem in low-income and rural areas and thatÂ residents in these areas could encounter more difficulty in accessing care.
Researchers also found that the need for ethnically diverse workers and for workers with cultural sensitivities will increase.
The report authors made several recommendations, including:
- Expanding loan repayment programs for medical professionals who work in underserved areas (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 11/9);
- Collaborating with workforce investment boards and community organizations to improve retention rates in health care training programs;
- Fortifying cultural competency by investing in interpretation services and training more community health workers; and
- Supporting community college programs that typically attract more diverse students ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/9).