Submitted by Vincent D Atchity, PhD. Create health Director Colorado AHEC
The Colorado Area Health Education Center office, at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus School of Medicine, announced today that they are the recipients of a 1.8 million dollar grant from The Colorado Health Foundation to support the CREATE Health project for two years.
CREATE Health aims to coordinate and develop the state’s health care workforce pipeline. Jack Westfall, M.D., M.P.H., the Director of the Colorado AHEC, and Associate Dean for Rural Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has been promoting a state-wide pipeline coordination project for years.
Westfall and his team in the Colorado AHEC office hired Vincent Atchity, Ph.D., to be the CREATE Health Director. Since his arrival in Colorado in December, from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health where he was Assistant Dean, Atchity has logged close to ten thousand miles all over the state, visiting key stakeholders in health careprofessional development and seeking partners and collaborators to serve on the project’s Advisory Council. The Colorado health care leaders who have agreed to serve on the CREATE Health Advisory Council are broadly representative of many different regions of the state, and include major regional employers of alltypes of health care professionals, as well as educators and workforce planners.
The CREATE Health Advisory Council met for the first time on July 21 and 22 to settle on specific pipeline coordination objectives in each of the represented regions of the state, and to articulate a state-wide model of replicable projects designed to address the state’s health care professional shortage issues. The CREATE Health project will build on workforce planning consensus, and on continuing conversations amongst health care professionals and educators and employers, to form an action plan for pipeline coordination for the state as well as a centralized health careers website–createhealth.com. Createhealth.com is a career-building, information sharing, and social networking site for health professionals–and for all those who are thinking about becoming health professionals, whether they are forward-thinking middle school students or adults toying with the idea of a career change. The site, which will be ready for public launch later this year, will profile health care educational programs all over the state, and make it easy for Coloradans to find their way into a health career, or from one health career into another. In addition to mapping the traditional health careers, the site will include healthy careers—all careers that promote the health of the State of Colorado.
Shortages across the allied health fields are very real in rural and urban underserved areas of the state. Those shortages are going to become more acute within the decade, as America’s largest generation begins to retire en masse. “There are jobs for lots of different kinds of people in health care…not just for those who can stomach the sight of blood or years of advanced math and science,” Atchity says. “Health care needs compassionate and ethical people-oriented workers who have the stamina for long hours and plenty of patience with our country’s infuriatingly complex health care system. Interest in caring for the aging and in behavioral health issues are big plusses for someone interested in working in health.”
CREATE Health will create and nurture cross-regional connections and communications, break down silos, augment efficiencies, and accelerate the adoption of best practices by program offices around the state as they become better able to identify each other as teammates with common goals.
“Currently healthcare workforce programs, planning groups, and collaboratives function mostly in their individual silos,” Westfall says. “They may do great work, but there is no connection, no synergy, no intelligently strategized coordination of effort and resources in order to achieve clearly defined objectives. They do not coordinate, effectively enough, a state-wide campaign for health.”
By building on local and regional successes and collaborating with leaders in every area of health professions education and recruitment, CREATE Health seeks to increase the number of highly-motivated and well-prepared students entering health care professions in Colorado, particularly in rural and urban underserved communities.
While the immediate focus is on the traditional health care workforce, CREATE Health aims to contribute to an increasing health awareness in every sector of the state’s economy, beginning, but not ending, with itsstudent populations…ultimately leading to an overall improvement in the health of the public.