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June 2021 Edition 
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UW CHWS June 2021 Newsletter 

Message from the Director 

The tide is quickly turning in the COVID-19 pandemic with nearly two-thirds of the US population with at least one shot of the vaccine. A recent poll found that 70% of frontline health care workers had at least one shot or were planning to get vaccinated as of the beginning of March. Reaching the remaining individuals who are not yet vaccinated requires sustained efforts to ensure equitable access to the vaccine as well as education about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Our team continues to study and present ways that best leverage our health workforce in educating patients about COVID-19 risk, screening and monitoring its long-term effects, and giving vaccines. These evolving roles are monitored through our ongoing Washington Sentinel Network that identifies emerging signals of change in health workforce demand; our in-depth analyses of specific occupations such as clinical lab professionals; and our evaluations of Federal funding and reimbursement policies on staffing patterns in skilled nursing facilities and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Read highlights below and please join us in conversations on social media (Twitter or Facebook) and at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 14-17.

Wishing you all a safe summer!

Bianca K. Frogner, PhD
Director, UW CHWS

Research Spotlight 

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have been managing staffing challenges and policy shifts since long  before COVID-19 pushed them into the spotlight. Dr. Tracy Mroz, PhD, OTR/L, UW CHWS investigator and Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitative Medicine, together with the Department’s PhD candidate, Rachel Prusynski, have been actively researching therapy staffing patterns in SNFs and its association with patient outcomes, with funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under our Center’s program on Allied Health. Their work has been nominated for the Best Poster Award at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting. See their poster on June 14 at 1:45 pm Eastern!

A recent study led by Ms. Prusynski published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and discussed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News found significant declines in the use of therapy staffing in SNFs with the implementation of a new payment reform policy called the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM). PDPM was designed to move reimbursement away from care-per-minutes of therapy delivered and toward patient outcomes. The effect of these payment policy changes on patient outcomes will be further investigated in a new R01 grant from the National Institute on Aging for which Dr. Mroz will be a co-Principal Investigator with Professor Natalie Leland at University of Pennsylvania. Director Bianca Frogner will also serving as a co-Investigator.

Notable Honors and Achievements

Awards and Nominations

Congratulations to Tyra Lea, Doctor of Physical Therapy student in the University of Washington (UW) Department of Rehabilitative Medicine in the School of Medicine. She was awarded the “Social Responsibility Ribbon” at the 2021 American Physical Therapy Association Combined Section Meeting for her poster titled, “The Potential Burden of Being Underrepresented in Physical Therapy Programs.” The study was overseen by Professor Bernadette Williams-York, who is leading a UW CHWS study titled, “The Potential Burden of Being Underrepresented in Health Professional Programs,” funded by HRSA.

Service and Recognition

Congratulations to Senior Deputy Director Sue Skillman, recently appointed to the Leadership Team of the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission’s “Critical Gap Closure” initiative, formed to address nursing workforce challenges in the state.

Director Frogner served as an external reviewer for the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) The Future of Nursing 2020-2030, which along with Implementing High-Quality Primary Care is one of two recent NAM reports particularly relevant to the health workforce. Several UW CHWS studies were also cited in these NAM including a Health Affairs blog from June 2020 titled, “Is It Fair? How to Approach Professional Scope-of-Practice Policy After the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
Promotions and Graduations

Congratulations to Director Bianca Frogner for her promotion to Full Professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the School of Medicine, effective July 1, 2021.

ongratulations and thanks to recent graduates who have been involved in UW CHWS projects:

  • Ambrose Zhi, Completed MS from School of Information
  • Lillian Prueher, Completed PhD from Department of Anthropology
  • Paula Kett, Completed PhD from School of Nursing
We enjoyed being part of your journey and wish you the best of luck in the next step of your careers!

On the Virtual Road

AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting 2021
“Leading with Evidence in a Time of Change” is the theme of this year’s AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting taking place online from June 14 to 17. Join the UW CHWS team for the following sessions (Eastern time):

Friday June 11 (Pre-Conference Meeting)

Interdisciplinary Research Group on Nursing Issues: Nursing Leadership Matter's for the Public's Health:

The Relationship between Nurse Public Health Directors Changes in Community Health Outcomes (Presenter: Paula Kett, PhD, MPH, BSN, IBCLC)

Monday June 14

9:45 AM Access to Post-Acute Care and Quality Outcomes (Chair/Discussant: Tracy Mroz, PhD, OTR/L) 

1:45 PM Best Poster Nominations: Therapy Assistant Staffing and Quality Outcomes in Skilled Nursing Facilities (Presenter: Rachel Prusynski, DPT, NCS) 

1:45 PM Poster Session: Aging, Disability, and End-of-Life

#118 - Quality of Post-Acute Care for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries: Comparing Urban and Rural Skilled Nursing Facilities and Home Health Agencies (Presenter: Tracy Mroz, PhD, OTR/L)

Tuesday June 15

11:00 AM COVID-19’s Effect on the Health Workforce (Chair/Discussant: Sue Skillman, MS)

12:00 PM Poster Session: Health Workforce

#403 - Addressing Systemic Racism in Birth Doula Services to Improve Health (Presenter: Grace Guenther, MPA)

#404 - Strengthening the Clinical Lab Professional Workforce: The Roles and Concerns of Educators and Employers (Presenter: Grace Guenther, MPA)

#409 - Pathways to Registered Nursing: Roles of Prior Health Care Jobs and Financial Support (Presenter: Hannah Johnson, MHA)

#417 - Disability Competency Training in Medical Education (Presenter: Danbi Lee, PhD, OTD, OTR/L)

#430 - Training Occupational Therapy Practitioners for the Behavioral Health Workforce (Presenter: Tracy Mroz, PhD, OTR/L)

#435 - Enhancing Rural Clinical Training Experiences for Physician Assistant Students (Presenter: Davis Patterson, PhD)

#436 - “EMS Providers Are Masters of the Workaround”: The Emergency Medical Services and Community Paramedic Workforces Respond to COVID-19 (Presenter: Sam Pollack, MHS)

#456 - The Increased Burden and Burnout Among Underrepresented Students in Graduate Health Professional Programs (Presenter: Bernadette Williams-York, PT, DSc)

2:30 PM Health Workforce Interest Group: Socially Accountable Medica Education: Building the Plane While Flying It (Co-Chair: Davis Patterson, PhD)

Wednesday June 16

2:15 PM What We Learned from the HSR Workplace Culture Study (Discussant: Bianca Frogner, PhD)

Thursday June 17

11:00 AM Well-being of Health Care Workers Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Presenter: Arati Dahal, PhD)

12:00 PM Poster Session: Structural Racism, Disparities, and Equity in Health

#1082 - Primary Care Provider Reflections on Teaching and Practice Following a Course on Implicit Bias in the Clinical and Learning Environment (Presenter: Janice Sabin, PhD, MSW)

2:30 PM The Unequal Effect of COVID on the Health Workforce: Early Evidence from National Surveys and Interviews (Presenter: Bianca Frogner, PhD)
If you miss the event, the content will be available on the conference website through July 19, 2021.

2021 AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) & Health Workforce Research Joint Conference 

After cancelling last year’s meeting, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) moved their annual Health Workforce Research meeting online and joined forces with the AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion to highlight the importance of the health workforce in addressing health equity. Between May 5 and 7, the UW CHWS team was involved in six panels and seven posters on topics including strengthening the clinical laboratory workforce, the role of birth doulas in reducing health disparities, the integration of disability competency training in medical education, the exit patterns of health care workers, the role of occupational therapy practitioners in behavioral health practice, and the effect of payment reform on therapy staff. Presentations are still available online at the conference website along with a full list of presentations on our website.

Where in the World are UW CHWS Team Members?

Remote work is not for everyone, but pandemic-driven telecommuting has given our virtual teams flexibility to move around the US while connecting with collaborators (green markers)  across the country. We look forward to seeing each other in person while continuing some  remote work as a way to prioritize personal and family needs. Here’s where our team members have logged on since March 2020.

UW CHWS in the News

One Change that Could Help Nursing Homes Recover from COVID-19 Fears

Director Frogner knows that skilled nursing care may be in her father’s future--and it worries her. In an April 13 article in The Conversation, she discusses ways by which investing in nursing home staff could address or allay these fears, and identifies three ways to make nursing homes safer for aging parents.

Telling the Stories of Health Insurance Navigators 

Professor and UW CHWS investigator Marieke van Eijk’s research on the important role of health insurance navigators during the COVID pandemic is highlighted in the Spring 2021 edition of the AnthropoLog, a newsletter in the UW Department of Anthropology. Learn more about our CHWS study that Dr. van Eijk is leading on health insurance navigators.

Other Publications 

Diversity of Graduates from Associate Degree in Nursing Programs

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs contribute to a significant share of the registered nurse (RN) workforce. Public institutions contribute the highest total number of diverse ADN graduates, though private for-profit institutions have the highest percentage of non-White graduates. A new Nursing Outlook publication by UW CHWS authors, using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, provides details on ADN graduates by race/ethnicity and how these findings correlate to financial aid between 2012 and 2018. The UW CHWS team was led by Professor Selina Mohammed, PhD, MPH, RN, Associate Dean for the UW School of Nursing and Health Studies at Bothell with co-authors Research Scientist Grace Guenther, Sr. Deputy Director Skillman, and Director Frogner with funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through our Center’s program on Health Equity.

Understanding Employment Status of Health Care Workers During the Pandemic

Do you know the difference between a furloughed, displaced, or discouraged health care worker? Many workers don’t--and it can negatively impact their ability to access benefits.  Health care workers are increasingly likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits and be at risk of joining the ranks of the long-term unemployed or dropping out of the labor force altogether, which is discussed in a brief led by Dr. Natalia Oster, Research Scientist, and co-authored by Director Frogner and Sr. Deputy Director Skillman, with funding from HRSA through our Center’s program on Health Equity.

How Well Do You Know the Clinical Lab Workforce?

Although the clinical lab workforce critically supports COVID-19 testing and other key laboratory procedures whose results facilitate important clinical decisions, this complex field faces increased demands, workforce shortages, and a shrinking student pipeline. UW CHWS partnered with the American Society for Clinical Pathology to unveil this complex workforce and their needs by examining six occupations: histotechnicians, medical laboratory assistants, medical laboratory technicians, phlebotomists, histotechnologists, and medical laboratory scientists. The report identified recommendations for improving these professions’ visibility, workforce recruitment and retention, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion in the laboratory. The results were presented at the 2021 AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion, and Health Workforce Research Joint Virtual Conference on May 7, 2021 and will be again presented as a poster on June 15, 2021 at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting. This study was funded by the Siemens Healthineers Fund of the Siemens Foundation. 

Complementing the report, UW CHWS produced a brief identifying what is known about the current supply of the clinical lab workforce and the ways in which states have deployed them during the pandemic. The brief was funded by HRSA through our Center’s program on Allied Health

Other Presentations 

*All meetings were held virtually due to COVID-19.


Frogner BK. COVID and the Health Workforce – What Have We Learned One Year Later?. Canadian Health Workforce Network. 03-25-2021. 

Shanley C, Kaplan L, Stubbs BA, Gorski MS, Meyer PR. Critical Gaps in Rural Nursing: Moving Ideas to Action. Northwest Rural Health Conference. 03-24-2021. 

Skillman SM, Stubbs B, O’Connor J, Dunlap B. Engaging Stakeholders to Address Health Workforce Challenges: Recent Projects from the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Washington. Northwest Rural Health Conference. 03-23-2021. 

Skillman SM. Thinking About Solving Health Workforce Problems: Insights for Planning and Policy. Oral Health Workforce Sprint – Delta Dental of Washington. 03-12-2021. 

Frogner BK. Health Professions Opportunity Grant. Testimony to Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Hearing on Health Profession Opportunity Grants; Past Successes and Future Uses. 03-10-2021.

Skillman SM, Pollack S, Maier R, Pearson K. Health Professions That Can Provide Evidence-based Non-pharmacological Pain Management. Northwest Rural Health Conference. 03-08-2021. 


Frogner BK. What We Know about Health Workforce Diversity in Washington State and How It Relates to Health Equity. Washington Student Achievement Council. 04-19-2021.


Skillman SM (Moderator), Lombardi B. Providing Behavioral Health Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Social Workers’ Rapid Transition to Tele-behavioral HealthHWTAC Webinar Series. May 20, 2021. Available here

Visit our website for a complete list of presentations, including those at recent conferences.

Visit Our Research Partners: Rural PREP and WWAMI Rural Health Research Center

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