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The California Endowment Announces $90 Million Investment in Strategies to Increase California's Health Care Workforce

Posted on 04/09/2013

Healthcare careers

The California Endowment (TCE) External link opens in new window or tab announced a $90 million, multi-year plan to increase the capacity of the state's existing health care delivery system to accommodate newly enrolled Californians under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The investment is part of the Health Happens Here campaign and 10-year plan for Building Healthy Communities by improving employment opportunities, education, housing, neighborhood safety, unhealthy environmental conditions, access to healthy food and more.

"Obamacare provides an unprecedented opportunity to increase coverage and address systemic and structural issues in our nation's existing health care system," said Anthony Iton, M.D., Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities at The California Endowment. "At the same time, it is abundantly clear that expanded coverage and its focus on prevention and population health can only be fully achieved if there is an increased and appropriately trained health workforce that reflects its diverse population, is well-distributed and coordinated and focused on intersecting medicine and public health principles."

To meet the demands of the growing insured population, and to shift the state's focus from the health care system that relies heavily on chronic disease treatment to promoting health practices and prevention approaches, The Endowment's investment will be focused on the following: increasing the number of primary care and public health professionals in health professional shortage areas, increasing the number of front line health care workers such as medical assistants, community health workers and allied health professionals, and increasing career opportunities for young people to pursue health careers focusing on regional approaches.

Latinos and African Americans, for example, comprise 32 and 8 percent of California's population respectively, but only 3 and 4 percent of physicians, 6 and 2 percent of dentists, and 4 percent of nurses. Lack of diversity in health professions adversely impacts both access to and quality of health care for communities of color.

TCE hopes to change these statistics dramatically by focusing investments and programs in areas best served by underrepresented communities of color.

Specifically, TCE will be investing the combined $90 million over the next four years into the following programs:

  • $21 million over a three-year period for additional health professional training slots to increase the number of medical professionals trained for medically under-served areas.
  • $14 million in 2013-14, $9 million in 2014-15 and $8 million in 2015-16 in student scholarships and loan repayment programs for health professionals to practice in medically under-served areas.
  • $2 million to support workforce pilot projects to help facilitate new practice models and new classes of health workers.
  • $3 million to assist interested clinics in preparing their sites as clinical teaching sites.
  • $10 million in innovative career ladder programs for front line health care workers
  • $15 million to strengthen K-12/K-16 pathway-pipeline programs that increase career opportunities for young people to pursue jobs in the health field with a regional focus that emphasizes a diverse and culturally competent workforce.
  • $8 million in community college health career training programs that support underrepresented minority students.

"At the Endowment, we understand the critical role diverse, capable health care professionals play in the well-being of all Californians, not only in a medical setting, but in making health happen in our schools and throughout our communities," said Dr. Iton. "We are confident that once the rest of the country notices the impact a 21st Century workforce has on California, they will look for similar opportunities in their own states."