Alaska Health Workforce Coalition
- Need: To ensure a well-qualified and sustainable Alaskan workforce to meet the current and future health care needs of its residents.
- Intervention: Establishment of the Alaska Health Workforce Coalition (AHWC), a public-private partnership created to develop, facilitate, implement, and support a statewide health workforce system.
- Results: Coalition efforts impacted multiple state policies and programs, including a loan repayment and incentives program, completion of a health vacancy study, and the development and expansion of health-related education programs.
Alaska faces several workforce challenges related to the state's large geographic size and relatively small population. The Alaska Health Workforce Coalition (AHWC) is a public-private partnership created to develop, facilitate, implement, and support a statewide system to ensure Alaska has a well-qualified and sustainable workforce to meet current and future health care needs of its residents.
The system, through various strategies such as "Growing Our Own," targets health workforce topics such as access, policies, affordability, and locally available training and professional development. Health education programming for students in remote locations is also a focus.
Coalition members include the following: Alaska Area Health Education Centers (AHECs); Alaska Behavioral Health Association; Alliance for Developmental Disabilities; Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; Alaska Primary Care Association; Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Homes Association; Alaska Workforce Investment Board; Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority; Department of Education and Early Development; Department of Health and Social Services; Department of Labor and Workforce Development; and the University of Alaska. Additional key Alaska organizations with an interest in the health workforce are also participants.
The Coalition's early work was funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) state healthcare workforce planning grant. Now the Coalition is supported by the partner organizations as part of their larger missions. For example, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority funds a director position administratively housed within the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
In 2010, the coalition's workforce plan was approved by the Alaska Workforce Investment Board (AWIB) as Alaska's health industry plan. In September 2011, the Action Agenda for 2012-2015 was published identifying immediate priority occupations along with change initiatives required to address the state's workforce needs. The coalition's most recent information is now published in the 2017-2021 Action Agenda.
Priority occupations were identified based on current vacancies and projected future needs, recruitment difficulty, and importance to care delivery:
- Primary care providers
- Direct support professionals
- Behavioral health clinicians/professionals
- Peer support professionals
- Physical therapists
Change initiatives identified as priorities are:
- Health professional loan repayment and incentive programs
- Training, competency evaluations, and professional development
- Health workforce policies and infrastructure
- Engage/Prepare Alaska youth for health careers
- Health workforce recruitment and retention
For states pursuing a prioritized health workforce agenda, Alaska's process information is located in the Alaska Health Workforce Plan, and details on the selected priorities in the Action Agenda. Additional reports and resources that informed the AHWC work are available. The AHWC also has a scorecard for tracking progress on their priority initiatives that could be adapted.
Contact InformationEric Boyer, Director
Alaska Health Workforce Coalition
Networking and collaboration
April 11, 2013
Date updated or reviewed
September 23, 2019
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