Workforce Supply for Hospitals and Health Systems

At its January retreat, the AHA Board of Trustees adopted as interim policy a report on workforce supply for hospitals and health systems. The report, originally developed by AHA's Strategic Policy Planning Committee, reviews the present workforce shortage and recommends actions that hospitals, health systems, and their associations should consider taking to achieve an adequate supply of well-trained and competent personnel.

One of the issues identified in the report, the establishment of an AHA Commission on Workforce, has already been launched. Chaired by Peter Butler, past chair of the health care systems section and president and CEO of Methodist Hospitals in Houston, the Commission is charged with identifying strategies to increase recruitment, retention and development of qualified caregivers and support staff in hospitals. The Commission will develop and issue a final report at AHA's Annual Meeting in April 2002.

Members of AHA's Health Care Systems Section have been instrumental in helping to identify top workforce issues uniquely affecting health care systems. At the March 2001 governing council meeting, system members recommended actions providers should take to address workforce needs and challenges. Restructuring how care is delivered to ensure nurses are being appropriately used (and paid suitably), educating the public to seek alternatives to non-emergency ER visits, and working with physicians to improve staff morale were just a few issues discussed.

Additionally, at their fall 2000 Leadership Retreat, health system leaders examined the forces re-shaping today's organizations - technology, competition, increased customer demand, information revolution, knowledge work, reinventing government, overall speed of change - and the resulting consequences on jobs. As the traditional organizational model of workers interfacing with customers has expanded, organizations need to take a hard look at their structure, hiring, compensation, management and leadership, and education and development processes. Suggested roles for AHA to assist health system members included: removing barriers to change; communicating look of elasticity in health care prices; and examining coalitions with others to identify best practices from other industries as well as within health care.

For current AHA workforce activities underway to develop advocacy and representation agendas, tools and strategic resources for members, and increased collaboration with state hospital associations, link to



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