State Leaders Unite to Strengthen California's Health Workforce

Leaders from across the health and education sectors are joining together to ensure California's workforce is ready to meet the population's current and future health needs.

August 2017
Future Health Workforce

The California Future Health Workforce Commission, formed in August 2017, and will convene throughout 2018 to draft a master plan to bolster the health workforce with a special emphasis on primary care, mental health, and care for the aging. It is the first time that the state's top leaders from the health, workforce development, and education sectors have coordinated efforts to address this issue.

The commission is cochaired by Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, which is a leader in training health professionals, and Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, one of the state's top health employers. The roster of 24 commissioners includes accomplished and respected state health, policy, workforce development, and education leaders. CHCF is one of California's health philanthropies, along with The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, and Blue Shield of California Foundation, supporting the project.

Meeting the Health Needs of Californians

California's population is growing, rapidly aging, and becoming increasingly diverse — trends that place an untenable burden on the state's health workforce. The pipeline of caregivers, including doctors, nurses, therapists, and elder care specialists, has not kept pace with demand, particularly in underserved, rural, and ethnically and linguistically diverse communities.

More coordinated planning and investment is needed now to ensure California has the right people, with the right training, in the right places to fill current and new roles that will be essential to meeting future health needs.

Commissioners are examining a variety of themes that have implications for health workforce development, including:

  • Addressing current and emerging workforce shortages in urban and rural areas to ensure access to quality, affordable services and equity in health outcomes
  • Fostering a health workforce that has the necessary skills and training, and leverages technological advances to improve service and efficiency
  • Prioritizing innovation in workforce and training solutions to address rising health care and education costs
  • Increasing opportunities for California residents to become the future health workforce and secure rewarding jobs in service of their communities

Developing a Master Plan

Over the course of a year, the commissioners — along with technical advisers and the commission's support staff — will develop a master plan for California to bridge the gap between the health landscape that exists today and one that works for future generations while creating thousands of jobs in the sector.

The California Future Health Workforce Commission will conclude in 2018. With the support of a full technical staff directed by Kevin Barnett from Public Health Institute and Jeff Oxendine from UC Berkeley, the commissioners plan to release research and recommendations throughout the year. The final plan will promote short-, medium-, and longer-term solutions that could be implemented by the state, educational institutions, employers, and other stakeholders to address current and future gaps in the health workforce. The goal is to secure commitments to implement and sustain the plan and priority recommendations.

"I am eager to help spearhead this urgent effort to prepare and expand our state's health workforce to meet the needs of California's increasingly diverse population," said Napolitano. "Now is the time to craft a blueprint that will help guide policymakers, health care providers, educators, and other state and community leaders in implementing a sustainable and forward-looking strategy that ensures all Californians have access to high-quality health care."

A full list of commissioners, as well as more information about the work of the commission, is available on the California Future Health Workforce Commission website.