Expanding the Healthcare Workforce in Nevada
- July 8, 2020
- Posted by: Healthy Young NV
- Category: Young Adult
Access to quality healthcare within a well-equipped healthcare system is necessary for a healthy population. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “access to comprehensive, quality health care services is important for promoting and maintaining health, preventing and managing disease, reducing unnecessary disability and premature death, and achieving health equity for all Americans.” What makes all of this possible is through making the healthcare system easily accessible, which includes having healthcare institutions geographically available and offering affordable services through qualified healthcare professionals. However, a key barrier to this ideal is the lack of a sufficient healthcare workforce in many areas.
Healthcare Workforce Shortages
Healthcare workforce shortages have been a national problem for some time. This problem is only increasing; the National Academy for State Health Policy reports that “twelve governors flagged health care workforce needs as a key priority in their 2018 State of the State Addresses, an increase from only eight in 2017.” Furthermore, certain states — especially those with prominent rural communities — can be hit harder. One of these states is Nevada, which is among the lowest ranked states for the number of healthcare professionals per 100,000 residents.
Healthcare workforce shortages have a multitude of contributing factors. An article from the Keck School of Medicine of USC reports the following four:
Shortages lie not only in the number of physicians, but also in the number of nurses, allied health professionals, and more — according to the book Ensuring Quality Cancer Care through the Oncology Workforce: Sustaining Care in the 21st Century. In fact, the workforce shortage of non-physician healthcare professionals is even greater and a bigger burden to providing necessary healthcare to patients.
The above is true for Nevada. According to a Research Brief on Shortage of Health Care Workers, “Nevada is experiencing significant shortages of qualified, competent health care workers in virtually every health care profession including nurses, pharmacists, physicians, medical coders, radiology technologists, laboratory technologists, and health information technologists.” This problem is even bigger in rural communities. An article published by the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine provides the following highlight: “Only three out of 239 Nevada psychiatrists live in a rural or frontier county as of 2018.” Nevada is clearly suffering from a healthcare workforce shortage, which is why it is so critical to expand the healthcare workforce in our state.
Why is it important to expand the healthcare workforce?
The main reason why it is important to expand the healthcare workforce is to make sure that everybody who needs healthcare has access whenever they may need or want a service. Expanding the healthcare workforce also helps ensure that every visit consists of quality healthcare and the building of a relationship between patient and provider. The World Health Organization defines quality of care as “the extent to which health care services provided to individuals and patient populations improve desired health outcomes. In order to achieve this, health care must be safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and people-centered.” The implementation of quality healthcare requires enough healthcare professionals, as this allows for the building of relationships between patient and provider, and also ensures that all needs are met when they should be in an appropriate manner.
How do we expand the healthcare workforce?
Now that the issue and importance has been discussed, here are some solutions to work towards expanding the healthcare workforce:
Ultimately, a coordinated effort is required to expand the healthcare workforce. However, that doesn’t mean we each can’t do our part. Whether you choose to advocate to local politicians, pursue a healthcare profession here in Nevada, or work to help expose others to these opportunities, anyone can make a difference in helping expand the healthcare workforce.
This blog post was written for Healthy Young NV by Lauren, a member of High Sierra AHEC. Lauren is currently studying at the University of Nevada, Reno.