Alaska Health Workforce Coalition
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Kathy Craft, Director
Alaska Health Workforce Coalition
The Alaska Health Workforce Coalition (The Coalition) was launched in 2009 to develop a coordinated, cohesive, and effective approach to addressing the critical needs for health workers in Alaska. In 2010, The Coalition-a public-private partnership created to address behavioral health and healthcare workforce issues-completed the Alaska Health Workforce Plan which was adopted by the Alaska Workforce Investment Board as well as Coalition member organizations representing state and industry leaders. The Coalition then published an Action Agenda for 2012-2015, outlining priority occupations and initiatives requiring ongoing attention to ensure Alaskans continue to have access to health care services. The Action Agenda is the implementation plan for the Alaska Health Workforce Plan 2010.
The Coalition monitors and actively participates in Alaska’s health workforce through engagement, training, recruitment and retention efforts. Stakeholders will need to continue to partner together to ensure Alaska has a well-qualified and sustainable workforce to meet the current and future health care needs of its residents.
The Alaska Health Workforce Coalition (AHWC) formed around the significant challenge of ensuring an adequate and qualified health workforce for Alaska. While this was clearly important to many individual organizations, the Coalition quickly demonstrated the value of collaboration among public, private and non-‐profit sectors to achieve collective impact and systems level changes.
Through an organic yet intentional and facilitated process – the diverse people and organizations came together to define and act on shared goals guided by shared principles for working together. They pooled resources and invested time according to various abilities of each organization. Key to success has been the attention and balance of two equally important aspects of collaborative work:
· Content, tasks and results – From the outset, members have been focused on results, not just planning. They also made an important distinction when determining where to focus the attention for Coalition research, planning and action. The Coalition targets the ‘net new’ areas where collective action will have the greatest impact and individual organizations are less likely to succeed. The Coalition encourages member-led initiatives that support the overall goal without adding complexity or additional oversight. They will advocate for these as needed, leveraging their statewide ‘voice’ for the industry.
· Process, relationships and respect -‐ The Coalition remains inclusive and ‘loosely led’, encouraging distributed ownership and modeling respect in asking for and offering assistance to fellow members. Coordinators, staff and contractors work as a team to provide group processes and facilitation that offer some predictability, yet never impose rigidity. The group routinely asks, ‘Is this working for us?’ and adapts to the feedback received. As in any group, people have different personalities and styles; participants have been adept in recognizing when to weigh in and when others are needed. In addition to regular meetings for group activities, countless individual and small group meetings take place to retain alignment among partners and to promptly address challenges, which can surface due to miscommunication or misalignment.
The AHWC recently conducted a retrospective review as it served as a summary reminder to current members of what has been working, and a guide for new members as organizations and individuals experience transition. It may be relevant to anyone working on civic sector collaboration – whether that be in workforce development, economic development, education, healthy communities, or regional goals that span across these domains. Many structures and processes in the civic space discourage collaboration and results can be slow and discouraging. AHWC experience illustrates that it can work well when guided by respectful partners committed to a shared purpose, principles and adaptability.
· Kathy Craft, AHWC Director, firstname.lastname@example.org