Workforce Policy Principles & Priorities

Advocates for Community Health is committed to building a skilled and diverse workforce with the infrastructure necessary to provide exceptional care to patients.

We see health centers as a centerpiece in creating an abundant pipeline of skilled professionals who have the infrastructure necessary to provide exceptional care to patients. As a professional home for this skilled and diverse workforce, access to professional development and mental health services, systems to maintain a sustainable workload, and pathways for growth must be in place. We believe community health centers should have a culture of continuous learning and growth at every level in their organizations. We believe community health centers should have a culture of continuous learning and growth at every level in their organizations.

Our Workforce Principles

  • The health care workforce at FQHCs must reflect the populations they serve. This kind of representation increases patient trust, health care quality and health outcomes.
  • Transforming the delivery of care to a value-based model is critical to retaining FQHC workforce and combatting burnout.
  • Training programs based at FQHCs are successful. Teaching Health Centers have trained nearly 1,500 new primary care physicians and dentists, a majority of whom are now providers in underserved areas[1]. The program is valuable, has produced measurable results, and should be expanded and improved upon.
  • Given their vast cultural and linguistic expertise, FQHCs are critical partners to recipients of Medicare Graduate Medical Education dollars in training future health professionals and should be recognized as such.
  • Considering the staffing crisis FQHCs are facing today, the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and the Department of Education must improve their collaboration in order to bolster the health care workforce pipeline.
  • FQHCs are, and can be relied on to be, a source of mentorship and professional pathway programs within underserved communities. This pathway should start with outreach to elementary-aged children and carrying through to career entry.

[1] Health Resources and Services Administration, National Center for Workforce Analysis. “Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program.” Academic Year 2019-2020. Available https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bureau-health-workforce/data-research/thcgme-outcomes-2019-2020.pdf

Our Workforce Policy Priorities

Address health care workforce burnout and build resilience.
Rationale:  Providers on the frontlines of COVID-19 are suffering mental health effects. Community health centers must have the resources to support them.
Recommendation: Funding for evidence-based interventions at community health centers to ensure that providers are connected to behavioral health resources and peer support.

Reduce barriers to provider loan forgiveness.
Rationale: FQHCs are understaffed, yet loan forgiveness programs are not fully utilized. Reducing barriers to participation or streamlining the program could have significant impact.
Recommendation: Provide guaranteed loan forgiveness eligibility for providers working in FQHCs, and/or provide allotments to FQHCs through 330 grants for clinicians and other eligible staff.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) should prioritize workforce diversity through data, evaluation, and funding.
Rationale: Despite strong evidence that representative workforce improves health outcomes, HRSA does not collect data, nor evaluate health centers, on the diversity of their workforce.
Recommendation: As part of annual reviews, HRSA should require FQHCs to submit data on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status of their workforce. Over time, HRSA should incorporate these measures into formal evaluation criteria and establish a pool of funding to ensure that centers are able to recruit and hire diverse staff.

Continue to invest in the successful Teaching Health Center model.
Rationale: FQHCs are exceptional training facilities for providers given the range of clinical and social conditions among the patient population. Yet, many health centers do not participate due to lack of start-up funds and unclear pathway to sustainability.
Recommendation: With a careful eye to evaluation, expand the Teaching Health Center model by $6 billion. Provide funds to interested FQHCs to cover start-up costs and provide funds sustainably beyond the number of residents.

Integrate FQHCs more fully in graduate medical education.
Rationale: FQHCs provide an important extension to may hospital-based training programs for both specialty care and primary care providers.
Recommendation: Work with Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce barriers and provide incentives for FQHCs to partner on GME funding.

Improve and expand the workforce pipeline for FQHCs.
Rationale: FQHCs often struggle to find qualified staff for a range of positions, which impacts their ability to grow and innovate.
Recommendation: Increase funding for top programs at the Department of Labor and Department of Education that support FQHC workforce development, including community college partnerships and apprenticeship programs.

Establish and disseminate leadership training and incentives for FQHC workforce.
Rationale: FQHCs suffer from a lack of leaders in all areas of patient care.
Recommendation: HRSA should develop standardized leadership training to encourage and facilitate career ladder mobility within health centers.

Committed to community, with a visionary and innovative approach, our membership is leading the way in shaping the rapidly evolving health care landscape of the future. Learn more about our other policy priorities and our advocacy efforts.
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