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UCSF Announces Establishment of UCSF Health Workforce Research Center

Center to Examine Capacity of Health Care Workforce to Meet Growing Long-Term Care Needs

UC San Francisco has been awarded one of three Cooperative Agreements from the U.S. Bureau of the Health Professions to establish the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center (HWRC).

According to director Joanne Spetz, PhD, the task of the center will be to examine the supply, demand, distribution and capacity of the health care workforce to meet the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities, many of whom will be likely to prefer receiving long-term care at home or in community-based settings.

Joanne Spetz, PhD

“The aging of the U.S. and global populations – the so-called ‘Silver Tsunami’ – means that an increasing number of us will require long-term care when we can no longer care for ourselves,” said Spetz, a professor of economics at the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and associate director of research strategy at the UCSF Center for the Health Professions.

“Simply managing the activities of daily living often requires ongoing care from a combination of licensed and unlicensed health workers,” she observed. “We believe that the demand for these workers will increase significantly in the coming years. Health policy decision-makers need tools and strategies to ensure that the US has an adequate workforce to meet our long-term care needs.”

Spetz will lead the UCSF HWRC with deputy director Susan Chapman, PhD, RN, associate professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the UCSF School of Nursing. The center represents a collaboration among the Institute for Health Policy Studies, the UCSF Center for the Health Professions and the UCSF School of Nursing. Spetz and Chapman also are affiliated faculty at the Center for the Health Professions.

Susan Chapman, PhD, RN

In its inaugural year, the center will conduct three major studies and respond to requests for data and information from the Bureau of Health Professions.

  • The first study will explore differences in training requirements for Personal Care Aides, who provide assistance to older adults and people with disabilities in their homes and in long-term care facilities. There are nearly one million people working in this field in the U.S., but there is little consistency in the training requirements across states.
  • The second study will extend existing prediction models that forecast demand for long-term care to understand how future changes in the settings in which such care is delivered translates to changes in the need for long-term care workers.
  • The third study will analyze job mobility of long-term care workers, specifically examining wage differences that appear between entry and exit from this field. The analysis will identify the occupations and industries from which long-term care workers are drawn, and the fields that workers enter if they leave long-term care.

The new center will actively engage all five of UCSF’s health profession schools, and will draw from UCSF’s deep bench of long-term care health policy researchers. Additional expertise will come from collaborations with colleagues from PHI (formerly the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) and the George Washington University. The center will be guided by an expert panel of long-term care researchers and state and federal policy makers, and will seek input from many community advocate groups.

Said Chapman, “Our studies, using state-of-the-art analytics and modeling techniques, will complement the high-quality research to be generated by the other Health Workforce Research Centers, and help the United States prepare for our future health care needs.”

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.