The UIC Health Care Workforce Development Task Force was charged to study emerging workforce needs and propose recommendations to inform decisions about the numbers and kinds of health care professionals UIC trains in the decade ahead, as demographic factors and changes in health care delivery systems influence both demand for and supply of health care.
The task force compiled extensive data both on UIC’s more than 80 degree and certificate programs in the health sciences and on occupation and wage growth nationally, regionally, and in Illinois. These data were integrated to identify opportunities for UIC to expand existing programs, establish new ones, or adapt to emerging trends. The task force also identified both governmental and non-governmental opportunities to fund workforce development on campus.
Workforce planning faces several challenges. First, an oversupply of and unmet demand for services often coexist. For instance, there are underserved communities with a great need for basic dental care, but few professionals to meet those needs because of a lack of reimbursement. Training more dentists will not resolve the disparity. Second, a changing regulatory environment can affect demand when different job titles share overlapping skills. Third, shifting models of health care delivery may call for new types of service providers, such as community health workers, as well as a more collaborative, team-based approach to care delivery. Finally, there are demographic and epidemiologic shifts, such as growth in the elderly population and in numbers of people with complex chronic disease, which, while more predictable at a national level, exhibit a great deal of local variation.
While being attentive to these challenges, as well as others that colleges and programs face as they adapt to new opportunities in a competitive and regulatory environment, the task force has sought to produce a report that will be useful to the campus at a time of extraordinary transformation in health care, ever mindful that the goal of all health professions education is to improve health and to advance health equity.
Part of UIC’s mission is to train professionals in a wide range of public service disciplines, serving Illinois as the principal educator of health science professionals and as a major health care provider to underserved communities.