GW Health Workforce Institute increases research, membership

A year since it began, the GW Health Workforce Institute has more than doubled their completed research projects – from three in the first half of the year to seven now.

Leaders of the institute said more people from across the University have joined the center, which has allowed the institute to conduct more research.

Patricia Pittman, the co-director of the Health Workforce Institute and an associate professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, said the number of completed research projects has increased because researchers are working together, being more productive and increasing their visibility in the press.

The institute launched last September, pulling faculty from six different schools to examine how they could work together to make the health care field function better for both professionals and patients.

“Our goal is to continue to advance the visibility of health workforce issues and to promote the social mission of health care education and practice,” Pittman said.

Three additional faculty members have joined the institute, and Clese Erikson joined the senior leadership team at the institute as a deputy director. Erikson most recently served as the senior director of the Center for Workforce Studies at the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Members of the institute are also including doctoral students in research projects more often, Pittman said. There are currently four doctoral students employed by the institute’s faculty members.

Pittman added that the group continues to develop new programs, including a fellowship on health equity funded through the Atlantic Philanthropies grant, and to expand their research partnerships with health professional associations.

Researchers at the institute earned a $5.5 million grant from Atlantic Philanthropies for a five-year project on health care equity in March.

She added that this year researchers are submitting grant proposals to groups like the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Leighton Ku, a professor of health policy and a founding member of the institute published a study about the staffing in community health centers.

Ku’s research explores how community health centers – nonprofit clinics that are scattered around the country to serve over 20 billion disadvantaged patients – have made staffing changes over the years and how staff who provide non-medical health services has grown.

Research on the health care workforce has grown over the past 20 years and research from the center can reflect the changes in health care, Ku said.

“There are all these very precise and license issues that go on in health care and part of the challenge these days as we move to a world of team based care is that some of those walls need to be broken down and we need to see how we can use people more flexibly based on what they can do as opposed to what their titles are,” Ku said.

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