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Activating Community Health Center and Community College Partnerships for Health Workforce Benefit

Monday, September 12, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Dan Ferguson, M.S., Director, WA State Allied Health Center of Excellence


Editor's note: Dan will be presenting on this topic at the Fall Primary Care Conference in Denver on October 15


Meeting the needs of the community health center’s workforce demand is a constant challenge. There are a number of efforts emerging across the health workforce industry, policy and education arena to address those challenges. A key strategic priority (#2) of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) is business engagement with the education system. In the world of workforce education there seems to be a continual conversation about the need to effectively engage industry and businesses to support workforce training programs.

New legislation requires partnerships between colleges and the communities they serve to assure the programs are relevant and graduates are work ready. In the health arena, industry is increasing its demands for students to be more prepared to hit the ground running and ready to work in complex, team-based, multi-professional environments.

Improving health and health care requires cross- sector collaboration. Changes in the delivery of health care resulting from the Affordable Care Act and implemented through regional communities of health that rewards value over volume and increased consumer engagement, shared decision-making, and transparency of data showing cost and quality of care require adjustments to existing health workforce training programs. Cooperation across sectors like education, business, transportation, and community development can play an essential role in building a Culture of Health. http://www.cultureofhealth.org/

Activating community health center and community college partnerships is an essential strategy to meet these challenges and to address the changing and evolving health workforce. What can we do to move the needle forward with collaboration, partnership, and sharing resources? What kind of collaborative efforts have worked? What seems to be working well?  What can we do more of to strengthen the partnerships?

A key part of the college and specifically the workforce education divisions’ mission is meeting business and industry expectations for viable and relevant future employees.
One key to fulfilling that mission while maintaining a balance with the integrity of current workforce programs and developing new programs is having the support of an activated and engaged advisory board.  Activated and engaged advisory boards operate from a framework of collective impact where there is a common understanding for the purpose of participation. The college programs and their industry partners recognize the mutual benefit from participation and there are mutually reinforcing activities, such as work-based learning experiences that demonstrate that level of support.

In the Jobs for the Future: “A Resource Guide to Engaging Employers”, the author presents working models of successful employer engagement and lessons for securing and sustaining partnerships with employers. It was written to help education and training providers fully realize the value of strategic, long-term, and intensive partnerships with employers. www.jff.org


NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.


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