The California Future Health Workforce Commission announced 10 priority recommendations at a press conference Monday to build and support a sufficient health care workforce for California’s increasing, aging and diversifying population.
According to the commission’s executive report, there are actually 27 total recommendations, but 10 are given priority. All recommendations are part of three key strategies with the shared goal of “building the healthcare workforce California will need by 2030.”
California is in a “looming workforce crisis,” according to the summary. Some of the biggest and fastest growing regions in California — the Inland Empire, Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley — are already affected by primary, dental and mental health care shortages.
“We’re also seeing a tremendous amount of demand in South LA and the San Joaquin Valley,” said Dr. Rishi Manchanda in the press conference. “I’m seeing constantly the mismatch between the demands of patients and the needs of patients.”
The summary adds that in 10 years, the state is predicted to face a shortfall of more than 4,100 primary care clinicians, 600,000 home care workers and about a third of its psychiatrists. The state must also address its increasingly diverse population — only 40 percent of California’s population is Latinx, but only 7 percent of physicians are Latinx.
The key strategies will create more opportunity for every Californian to advance in health care occupations, centralize and expand health care training and improve health care worker capacity and retention, the summary said.
According to UC President Janet Napolitano, the cost of implementing the 10 priorities is about $3 billion over 10 years. She added that the cost is less than 1 percent of California’s predicted health care costs for 2019.
The first six priorities recruit more professionals to provide health care in underserved communities, according to the summary. This is done by recruiting more underrepresented students, supporting scholarships for qualified health care students who serve underprivileged communities and increasing the number of residency positions for physicians and psychiatrists.
“I am a primary care physician and have had the privilege of serving communities and families, diverse communities,” Manchanda said in the press conference. “One of the things that I have seen throughout all these experiences … is that there is a clear shortage in communities where we’re seeing the fastest growth terms of populations.”
Two of the 10 priority recommendations involve nurse practitioners, according to the summary. The priorities involve maximizing their roles to treat more primary care patients and developing a psychiatric nurse practitioner program for behavioral health care shortages in underserved communities.
The eighth and 10th priorities create formal training programs for and certify home care and community health workers. These priorities create more job opportunities, reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and better facilitate access to health care across the state.
“I think that these recommendations are a great next step to improving the diversity in medicine within the state,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay in an email.