Changes in allied and auxiliary health care workers' training needed for quality,,of patient care, according to UCSF report

To maintain quality of patient care in the future, changes need to be made in the training and use of allied and auxiliary health care workers -- hospital support staff such as physical therapists, technicians, aides, and assistants -- according to a report released by the California Twenty-First Century Workforce Project.

The project is an initiative by the UCSF Center for the Health Professions and is funded by the California HealthCare Foundation.

"Allied and auxiliary workers suffer from high turnover rates, ill-defined expectations, low pay, and inadequate training," according to Jonathan Showstack, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and health policy and co-director of the UCSF Center for the Health Professions. "We need to change how we train and use these workers. Otherwise, patient care is likely to suffer."

Allied and auxiliary workers, which include over 200 professions and occupations, make up 60 percent of the country's 10.5 million-person health care workforce, according to the report.

These workers are being affected more than other health professions by the changes in the health care system, however, their concerns and contributions are often overlooked by health care institutions, researchers, and policy makers, said Showstack.

The report titled The Hidden Health Care Workforce: Recognizing, Understanding, and Improving the Allied and Auxiliary Workforce identified three contributing factors to the problems facing this workforce: health care delivery organizations are struggling to survive in California's competitive health care market; workers are being asked to be more flexible, more tolerant of uncertainty, and more capable team members; and educators are having difficulties preparing future workers with appropriate skills.

The report stresses that the future of the allied and auxiliary workforce depends on health care delivery organizations, workers, and educators and recommends that these groups build partnership

Contact: Lordelyn P. del Rosario
University of California - San Francisco

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