By Director Sunita Mutha, MD, FACP, and Associate Director of Research Elizabeth Mertz, PhD
“We envision a collective effort that prioritizes systems and policy changes to advance the diversity and skills of workers to produce better economic opportunity and, ultimately, better health for communities of color.”
California has made unprecedented investments in our state’s health workforce, achieved significant progress toward universal health insurance coverage, and crafted a comprehensive plan for strengthening the health workforce. With all of this progress, we are optimistic about the potential for creating just and equitable health systems in California.
This moment in time also offers a bold opportunity to achieve what communities need and have long demanded: a culturally responsive, diverse, and inclusive health workforce. A vision which, by design, holds the promise of a future with expanded social opportunity, greater economic mobility, and social justice for communities of color in California.
Today, we are thrilled to announce the launch of an initiative at Healthforce Center at UCSF that embodies our dedication to advancing this vision. Supported by a five-year, $7-million grant from The California Endowment (TCE), we are expanding our research and policy work to dramatically accelerate progress toward a health workforce that better reflects our demographics and addresses local and regional workforce needs.
We envision a collective effort that prioritizes systems and policy changes to advance the diversity and skills of workers to ensure better economic opportunity and, ultimately, better health for communities. To accomplish this, we will be working with partners across to the state to create a community-driven research and policy agenda, generate workforce knowledge, inform policy making, and advocate for systems change.
The distinguishing feature of this initiative is that it is centered in and informed by community-defined needs. We know that individuals entering the health care workforce can face barriers such as the cost of training, systemic discrimination, and bias. We know that health care outcomes improve when health care providers share patients’ race, ethnicity, language, and/or cultural experiences. These challenges must be addressed by community-informed policy changes that result in expansion of the workforce, economic mobility for prioritized roles, and better access to high-quality, culturally responsive care.
This exciting new undertaking builds on Healthforce Center’s decades of experience in health workforce research, evaluation, and policy analyses. Our experience is augmented by an enduring commitment to actions that advance equity, engage communities, and drive change. Our workforce expertise, combined with our expansive state and national networks, informs our ability to identify impactful policies and foster improvement. Our deep partnership with the Phillip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (IHPS) at UCSF brings additional expertise and assets to this effort.
“The distinguishing feature of this initiative is that it is centered in and informed by community-defined needs.”
Healthforce Center’s efforts are aligned with The California Endowment’s social bond investments, which aim to advance racial justice and health equity with the goal of innovative, long-term solutions that results in healthier communities and enhanced economic opportunities throughout the state. Healthforce Center’s new body of work will be guided by a Pathfinder Council that will ensure and amplify insights from community voices and regional workforce collaboratives. This effort complements the state’s workforce endeavors at the California Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
This launch is a call to action for those who share our vision. Join us as we embark on this transformative journey toward a health workforce landscape marked by equity, inclusivity, and real progress. Join us in creating a better California.
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Read more about Healthforce Center’s work:
- Equitable Co-design in Health Care: How to Incorporate Community Voices to Impact Systems
- Healthforce Center’s 30th Anniversary: Next Steps for Transforming Health Care
- See a variety of ways that Healthforce Center advances equity
- Read our insights on primary care shortages, community health worker development, and the behavioral health workforce