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The president of the University of New England offered a range of solutions to a U.S. Senate committee this week that would address the shortage of health care workers.
Changes in educational systems, additional incentives and greater efforts to foster diversity were among the ideas James Herbert presented in testimony before the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and a related subcommittee this week in Washington, D.C.
Herbert, who has been the UNE president since 2017, was introduced by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, at a Congressional hearing titled, “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?”
“Successfully addressing America’s health care workforce crisis will require not merely acting on each of these individual initiatives in isolation but by seamlessly integrating them,” Herbert said. “Although strategic investment of resources will be required, much of the work we confront reflects cultural changes that will require strong leadership; a willingness to innovate; and coordinated partnership between academia, government, industry, and the nonprofit sector.”
The American Hospital Association estimates that by 2033 the U.S. will have a shortage of 124,000 physicians and will need to hire 200,000 nurses per year to meet demand. The Association of American Medical Colleges has said the U.S. may lose as many as 55,200 primary care physicians by that time.
Herbert offered six potential strategies (and the following quotes from his presentation):
The University of New England, which has campuses in Biddeford and Portland, has Maine's only medical college and only dental college, as well as a range of health care degree programs.
UNE is in the process of consolidating its medical campus in Portland and in November broke ground on the $93 million Harold and Bibby Alfond Center for Health Sciences, which will be 110,000 square feet and be completed in time for the 2024-25 school year.
The project will relocate the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine from Biddeford, creating an integrated health sciences campus in a custom-built, state-of-the-art facility in Portland.
The move consolidates all health professions programs on the Portland campus — including the nursing program, dental school, pharmacy school, occupational therapy and related professional training, now with the incoming College of Osteopathic Medicine.
University of New England President James Herbert testified at a Congressional hearing titled, “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?”
Here is a video link.
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