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March 2022 Edition 
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UW CHWS March 2022 Newsletter 

Message from the Director 

A new year brings opportunities to renew our commitment to support the health workforce. Mask and vaccine mandates are being rolled back across states and employers are exploring ways to return to the office. Fortunately, the surge in cases and deaths from the Omicron variant is waning. Our frontline health care workers continue to work tirelessly though evidence suggests they are reaching their limit. Multiple news stories discuss early retirement among our nurses and doctors, and the frustration many feel around trying to secure salaries that are commensurate with the everyday risks they face. Using monthly survey data, we see evidence that women with children, workers of color, and those working in low-paid jobs, often within long-term care, are struggling to recover from the pandemic. Drawing from our Health Workforce Sentinel Network in Washington state, we are learning how employers are supporting their health workforce through increasing pay, investing in career development, and creating more supportive work environments. This focus on retention is critical to ensure we do not lose more workers. 

We will continue to monitor employment and identify ways to support and strengthen our health workforce.

Best wishes,
Bianca K. Frogner, PhD 
Director, University of Washington
Center for Health Workforce Studies (UW CHWS) 

UW CHWS Research Highlights


New Study of Rural/Urban EMS Personnel Practice  

A new UW CHWS study examined the extent to which emergency medical services (EMS) professionals perform skills that correspond to their credential levels and whether there are variations in adherence to national practice guidelines between rural- and urban-serving agencies. Using data on EMS encounters in 2018 from 1,056 EMS agencies nationally, the study found that, compared to urban agencies and those with paid staff, EMS personnel in rural and lower-resourced agencies, often staffed by emergency medical technicians and volunteers, more often provided care outside of the recommended scope. These findings suggest a potential mismatch between EMS workforce capabilities and population health needs. Rural and volunteer EMS personnel may benefit from enhanced training and oversight to allow them to provide the high-quality care their communities require. This study was conducted by UW CHWS investigators Davis Patterson, PhD and Ben Stubbs, MPH with colleague Nikiah Nudell, MS, MPhil, NRP, FACPE at The Paramedic Foundation. 


North Carolina is Latest State to Implement Sentinel Network 

Since 2016 Washington State has been tracking signals of changes in health workforce demand using the Health Workforce Sentinel Network, collaboratively developed by UW CHWS and the Washington Workforce Board. Through a license with the UW CHWS, the first round of data was just collected from health care employers in North Carolina using this unique approach, and their findings can now be accessed through the North Carolina Health Workforce Sentinel Network Dashboard. The NC Health Workforce Sentinel Network was launched with funding and direction from the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) Program and participation by partners around the state. Ben Stubbs MPH, UW CHWS Operations Director for the Sentinel Network, managed the NC implementation.  


Research Spotlight on our New UW CHWS Affiliate Investigator  

Each year, UW CHWS embarks on a new set of projects funded through our cooperative agreement grants on allied health and health equity from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These are opportunities to engage with researchers across the UW who are often also practitioners in the field. This year, we are collaborating with colleagues in the School of Pharmacy on a new project, led by Professor Jennifer Bacci, PharmD, MPH, BCACP: “Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Community Pharmacist Patient Care and Future Workforce Needs.” This new study builds on UW CHWS’ earlier HRSA-funded work examining the many ways pharmacists play a critical role in patient care and the barriers to expanding their role, and is informed by Professor Bacci’s prior research including a study of how community pharmacists may support people living with epilepsy.  

UW CHWS in the News

Navigating Mental Health Care

The Seattle Times’ ongoing Mental Health Project series highlighting the challenges and potential solutions to navigating mental health care in Washington State has been informed by UW CHWS work. Constraints to obtaining mental health care include the lack of inpatient beds and outpatient services, continuity of care through the primary care system, and availability of the behavioral health workforce. Boosting the behavioral health workforce is cited as one of four key ways lawmakers want to improve Washington’s mental health system. Sr. Deputy Director Skillman notes that while some staff are leaving because they’re overworked, burned out, or retiring, many are finding jobs with higher pay. Skillman says a new “Behavioral Health Support Specialist” occupation in the state, while not an instant fix, could help fill workforce gaps. The new bachelor’s level role is being developed through the UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, with funding from the Ballmer Group.  


The Rise in Travel Nurses 

Early retirement and competition from other sectors are among the reasons the health care industry has lost nearly a million workers since the beginning of the pandemic. Hospitals are turning to travel companies to find nurses, said a Washington Post article that quotes Director Frogner. She notes that the growth in the use of travel nurses is a symptom of a larger problem–lack of centralized workforce planning. Another recent story in The 19th News noted that high-paying positions came at a great cost to travel nurses, like being away from kids for weeks at a time while managing huge patient workloads during a pandemic. Nurses employed at hospitals where travel nurses are contracted, on the other hand, may be feeling undervalued.  “…Where I think nurses may have felt undervalued before…it’s becoming much more front and center as [staff nurses watch] their peers come back” after earning higher wages doing the same work. 


UW CHWS Funding Highlight 


UW CHWS to Track Oral Health Workforce in Washington State 

With funding from Delta Dental of Washington, UW CHWS has launched an oral health workforce surveillance program with the goal of informing practice and policy that will help ensure Washington’s population has access to needed oral health care. Through a Web-based dashboard, this new program will display its analyses of the supply and distribution of dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and other oral health occupations in the state, their education and training pathways, industry demand for these occupations, as well as measures of the population’s need for oral health care. Sr. Deputy Director Sue Skillman serves as the Program Director, Research Scientist Ben Stubbs MPH is Operations and Analysis Director. Other team members include Research Scientists Arati Dahal PhD, Samantha Pollack MHS, and Grace Guenther MPA, as well as Center Director Bianca Frogner and Investigator Davis Patterson. Initial findings should be available by Summer 2022 on the UW CHWS website’s Workforce Dashboards link, with more findings to follow throughout the year. 


Notable Honors and Achievements 

Congratulations to Director Bianca Frogner, who was nominated and selected to give the Science in Medicine lecture on February 3 at University of Washington School of Medicine! In “Where did all the health care workers go? Health workforce trends before and during the pandemic,” Director Frogner highlighted several segments of the health workforce struggling to return to work as the pandemic continues, particularly those in long-term care. The challenges are not new yet may be reaching new heights and deserve policy support to ensure those remaining are retained. This lecture series was officially established in 1976 to recognize and honor notable School of Medicine faculty research achievements and give UW researchers an opportunity to access findings outside of their immediate fields. 


Congratulations to Professor India Ornelas, PhD, MPH, who was appointed Acting Chair of the Department of Health Systems and Population Health (HSPop), in the UW School of Public Health. Dr. Ornelas has led research examining best practices for experiential education programs in health professional schools and supports other research conducted under UW CHWS’ program on health equity. Director Frogner is chairing the search committee for a permanent Chair for HSPop. 

UW CHWS Farewells

Thank you and farewell to our Program Coordinator, Juan Pablo “JP” Paredes. After decades of loyal service to the University of Washington, including five years as a team member with CHWS and our peer center, Rural PREP, JP retired in December and looks forward to more time with his grandchildren and continuing his work with the Filipino Cultural Heritage Society of Washington. We wish you all the best as you enjoy this next phase in your life, JP! 

Publications by UW CHWS Researchers

November 2021 

Dahal A, Stubbs BA, Frogner BK, Skillman SM. Leveraging Data to Monitor the Allied Health Workforce: State Supply Estimates. Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Nov 2021. 

Dunlap B, Basye A, Skillman SM. Background Checks and the Health Workforce: Practices, Policies and Equity. Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Nov 2021. 

Jopson AD, Frogner BK. An Examination of Health Care Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements and Self-Employment. Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Nov 2021. 


December 2021 

Bacci JL, Zaraa S, Stergachis A, Simic G, White SH. Stakeholder perceptions of community pharmacist population health management of people living with epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav, Dec 2021. 

O’Hare AM, Rodriguez RA, van Eijk MS. Supporting the employment goals of people with kidney disease. American Journal of Kidney Disease. Dec 2021. 

Sabin JA, Guenther GA, Ornelas IJ, Patterson DG, Andrilla CA, Morales L, Gurjal K, Frogner BK. Brief Online Implicit Bias Education Increases Bias Awareness Among Clinical Teaching Faculty. Med Educ Online (Open Access), Dec 2021. 


January 2022 

Frogner BK. How the Health Services Research Workforce Supply in the United States is Evolving.Health Services Research, Jan 2022. 


February 2022 

Patterson DG, Stubbs BA, Nudell NG. How Actual Practice of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Aligns with the Recommended National Scope of Practice in Rural Versus Urban Areas of the U.S. Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Feb 2022. 

van Eijk MS, Guenther GA, Kett PM, Jopson AD, Frogner BK, Skillman SM. Addressing systemic racism in birth doula services to reduce health inequities in the United States. Health Equity. Feb 2022.  

van Eijk MS, Kett PM, Prueher L, Frogner BK, Guenther GA. Lack of consistent investment in federal insurance navigator program undermines navigators’ equity work in vulnerable communities. J Public Health Manag Pract. Feb 2022.  

van Eijk MS, Guenther GA, Jopson AD, Skillman SM, Frogner BK. Health workforce challenges impact the development of robust doula services for underserved populations in the United States. Forthcoming in Journal of Perinatal Education.  


Visit our website for a complete list of publications.

Presentations by UW CHWS Researchers

November 2021 

Sabin J, Pereda B, Palermo AG, Boatright D, St. Cloud T. Addressing Institutionalized Racism in Academic Medicine – Anti-Racism in Medicine: A Learning-to-Action Approach? AAMC 2021 Annual Meeting. Nov 9, 2021. 


February 2022 

Frogner BK. A Population Health Workforce to Meet 21st Century Challenges and Opportunities: A Workshop. Session III: Pathways, Competencies, Training, and Education for a Varied, Flexible, and Resilient Workforce. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Feb 28, 2022. 

Frogner BK. Where did all the health care workers go? Health workforce trends before and during the pandemic. Science in Medicine Lecture. UW School of Medicine. Feb 3, 2022. 


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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