By Sunita Mutha, MD, FACP, Director of Healthforce Center
I always breathe more deeply when the smells of spring begin to fill the air here in San Francisco. But this spring feels extra special, as I see my patients, colleagues, and loved ones getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, and we begin to exhale a sigh of relief. Day by day, I feel more hopeful in the fight against the virus.
Throughout the pandemic, Healthforce Center at UCSF has remained a steadfast resource for supporting the health care workforce. I’d like to share with you how we see the value in the work that we do. Our value is in connecting the people of health care — clinicians, paramedics, technicians, nursing students, and everyone in between — with the policymakers, foundations, government officials, and public health advocates who champion their efforts.
For example, early in the pandemic, Healthforce Center issued our COVID workforce recommendations, which distilled our research on scope of practice levers, and delivered it to California policymakers. We continue to advocate for measures that will deploy more clinical personnel. This is just one example of how Healthforce Center is uniquely positioned to connect people and generate a collective force for health, equity, and action.
We bolster the strength of that force (which is the strength of all of you) through four areas of work, all with a focus on equity:
- Research in action
- Consulting and evaluation
- Programs that build leadership and resilience
- Connections across sectors
Research at Healthforce Center always seeks actionable solutions for the workforce challenges of today and the future. One example is an investigation of the types and distribution of health care workers that will enable a growing senior population to age in place at home. Another example is a study about why it’s been hard to keep California hospitals staffed during the pandemic that the New York Times recently shared quoting our own Joanne Spetz about the demand for nurses. We publish and disseminate our research findings widely through journals, mainstream media, and our network of partners, like you.
Consulting and evaluation services are expanding at Healthforce Center as more funders and health care providers seek us out for strategic advising and assessment. By applying our rigorous metrics and actionable insights, we are guiding diverse clients to target their resources and achieve the greatest impact. For example, we are supporting the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on strategies to improve the well-being of health care workers across the country.
Programs that build leadership and resilience across the health care workforce, and provide clinicians a unique opportunity to grow their strategic and management skills. Healthforce Center has been running the California Health Care Foundation’s Health Care Leadership Program since 2000, and the Cedars-Sinai Community Clinic Initiative: Managing to Leading (M2L) program since 2015. Whether through one of these perennial programs, or through a customized training created specially for your organization, many of you have already leveled up your skills, and now can leverage the strength of these alumni networks.
Connections across sectors is Healthforce Center’s super power and what we are best known for. The 15-year-old California Improvement Network continues to bring diverse health care leaders together to foster ideas, innovation, and camaraderie. Recent CIN events enabled members to share insights about providing care differently during the pandemic, and creating health organizations that are actively anti-racist.
Equity is a concept that underlies everything we do here at Healthforce Center. For the last 29 years our work has been shaped by the recognition that equity is essential for healthy communities. An early example is our cultural competence program for Mayo Clinic from the early 2000s which trained clinicians to deliver equitable care and train the next generation. More recently, we published a 2020 issue brief on increasing racial and ethnic diversity in medical schools to diversify California physicians so that providers better reflect the communities they serve.
The pandemic has spurred all of us here at Healthforce Center to re-examine our priorities and tighten our focus on the work that will make the greatest impact. I’d bet that you and your team have felt similarly called. If so, I want to hear from you: What challenges can we help you solve next?
To learn more about the consulting and evaluation services offered by Healthforce Center to help move your organization forward, or other resources, contact Deputy Director Rebecca Hargreaves.
Sunita Mutha, MD, FACP, is the director of Healthforce Center at UCSF. For over a decade, she has been engaged in transformational leadership in health care with a special focus on emerging leaders and inter-professional training.