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Rx for a New Health Care Workforce: Promising Practices and Their Policy Implications

Randall Wilson

Health care reform engaged the nation in intense debate about increasing coverage, lowering costs, and improving quality. Largely missing from the conversation over the legislation was the need for a skilled health care workforce, particularly on the front lines of care—among the men and women who provide a great deal of the nation’s direct patient care and public health services, yet who earn low wages and have limited opportunities for advancement.

In this report, JFF’s Randall Wilson describes what is needed to match the demands of a reformed health care system with a supply of skilled professionals and supporting occupations. Wilson draws on promising models from several JFF initiatives, including Breaking Through, Jobs to Careers, and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. He prepared the report for a March 2010 JFF convening that brought together health care policymakers, funders, workforce experts and practitioners, and industry leaders committed to expanding access, lowering costs, and improving the quality of health care.