Forum Session

Projecting Health Care Workforce Needs in an Era of Practice and Technological Change
April 19, 2013


Rob Cunningham, Consultant & William J. Scanlon, PhD, Consultant


Coverage expansions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) have prompted worries about the adequacy of the future health care workforce. But generalizations about impending shortages fail to capture the complexities of workforce maldistribution, in which shortages and surpluses exist side by side from one geographic area to another and among specialties. The difficulties of workforce planning and policymaking are compounded by a wave of changes in the way health services are organized, delivered, and paid for. In the past, workforce planning has been based on historical doctor-to-population ratios. Increased use of health teams and substitution of nurse practitioners and physician assistants for physicians creates substantial uncertainty in current projections of future need. This Forum session explored new projection methodologies and the workforce implications of practice change in two innovative care organizations.


Edward Salsberg, MPH (bio)
National Center for Health Workforce Analysis
Bureau of Health Professions
Health Resources and Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Thomas Graf, MD (bio)
Chief Medical Officer
Population Health and Longitudinal Health Care Services Lines
Geisinger Health System

Patrick T. Courneya, MD (bio)
Medical Director
HealthPartners Health Plan (Minnesota)

Related Materials

"Tapping the Potential of the Health Care Workforce: Scope-of-Practice and Payment Policies for Advanced Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants" (Background Paper No. 76, July 6, 2010)

"Transforming Primary Care: Implications for Practice Design and Workforce" (Forum Session, October 15, 2010)

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