UNC to become regional center for research on health workforce

CHAPEL HILL -- The Health Resources and Services Administration's Bureau of Health Professions has awarded the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a cooperative agreement to become the Southeast Regional Center for Health Workforce Studies.

The agreement will provide $1.08 million to UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research over three years to fund a variety of research projects about health and health-care workers.

"We are very pleased with this agreement since it is further recognition of the fine work done by UNC's health sciences faculty and those at the Sheps Center in particular," said Dr. Thomas C. Ricketts, deputy director of Sheps. "The workforce center will enable us to continue to contribute to state and regional health workforce needs."

Ricketts and Dr. Barbara A. Mark, Sarah Frances Russell distinguished professor at the UNC School of Nursing, will co-direct the new facility.

"The center is in an ideal position to provide timely information to policymakers about critical health workforce issues to assure access to the full range of health-care providers, particularly for our country's most vulnerable populations," Mark said. "This is especially important given projections for burgeoning needs for health care as the baby boomers reach retirement age."

Research that goes on in a workforce center can help professionals and government officials anticipate the kinds of shortages seen recently in nursing and allied health field, Ricketts said.

"Right now we are seeing signs of an impending shortage of physicians in some specialties," he said. "Knowing this in advance helps shape policy and signal the market to adjust."

First-year funding will pay for five studies and start-up activities, according to Dennis Zaenger, research associate at Sheps and center manager.

One project will generate information on nursing employment patterns for different racial and ethnic groups in

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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