While the gap between training programs and the number of workers needed is large, there are examples that provide hope — and a roadmap — to bridging talent shortages in allied health.
Because health providers need workers and community colleges need resources to expand their allied health programs, some creative partnerships have helped increase the number of students attending — and succeeding — in training programs. Examples include health providers supplying:
- Space in their facilities for students to conduct their clinic work
- Instructors and/or the salary for training program instructors
- Financial support for equipment, classrooms, student scholarships, etc.
- Satellite campuses and learning opportunities for students — especially those with families — who cannot commute to the main campus for classes
Examples of state and federal funding that have created opportunities to increase training capacity include:
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): The Feb. 2009 federal stimulus bill designated billions of dollars to workforce programs, including several million specifically for California community colleges to create or expand allied health training programs.
- State funding: In April 2009, Gov. Schwarzenegger committed up to $16 million in Workforce Investment Act funds to match another $16 million from colleges and providers willing to develop more public-private partnerships.
- Local funding: The city of San Francisco is using ARRA funds and working with San Francisco City College, UCSF and Jewish Vocational Services to run an allied health "sector academy," a unique program that sets up disadvantaged students to succeed in their coursework by providing internships that build foundational skills.
Numerous health academies around the state help students learn about and prepare for careers in allied health. These high schools within high schools create a specific health track that provides students with the classes and hands-on experiences they'll need to qualify for and succeed in college training programs — and eventually in health careers. A few examples include:
Even in years of budget cuts and scarce resources, some enacted and proposed policies are fulfilling the role that legislation must play as part of this workforce equation. A few examples include:
- In 2009, a bill long supported by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network became law, requiring health plans/insurers to provide interpreter services, translated materials, and to collect data on race, ethnicity and language to address health inequities.
- In 2009, California Assemblyman Ed Hernandez proposed a bill (AB 2375) that would have created a master plan for the state on how to develop an adequate health workforce.
- AB 2385 proposes five pilots at California community colleges that would accelerate select allied health training programs from 24 to 18 months.