WORKFORCE EDUCATION: Moving Mountains 101

From Research to Administration, Obstetrics to End-of-Life care, the science and business of health has never been more complex. Preparing future health care professionals and bringing the right talent into the system is arguably one of the most important challenges of this generation.

The AMA and IOM are predicting unprecedented shortfalls in both general nursing capacity and geriatrics specialists. In an attempt to improve the reach of existing staff, advanced-practice nurses are the focus of a new wave of scope-of-practice bills being presented in 20 states. When this legislation reaches Oregon, LPNs and RNs across the state will be looking to our community colleges to provide the additional training they’ll need.

The first Baby Boomers will reach age 65 in 2011. By 2030, there will be an estimated 8,000 geriatricians, but the nation will need 36,000 to provide sufficient care for our elderly. These are only two of the many real-world tests to be faced by your students. For a 2011 report from the Oregon Healthcare Workforce Institute on the economic contributions of Oregon's health care workforce, click here.

It’s clear that we’ll need more health care clinicians in the coming years. Being a member in the Oregon Health Network will provide multiple benefits to community colleges statewide:

  • Good for your students: The future is quite literally in your hands. The people you’re training now are likely to face a health care landscape that is decidedly different from what we know today.  
  • Good for your school: The availability of high-speed broadband connectivity and the strength it brings to telemedicine can essentially level the playing field for community colleges. Rural and underserved campuses can offer the same curriculum being taught in the larger population centers.  
  • Good for your community: In addition to keeping medical talent close to home, improved health care workforce education via broadband technology provides a platform for a more robust economy. Your college has the potential to become a regional health information hub through a variety of outreach programs, raising awareness of health education issues for your entire region.

The number one incentive for primary care physicians to be attracted to an area is the availability of Health Information Technology. Another significant driving factor is the availability of health care professionals like nurses, lab technicians, and radiology. Infrastructure investsment in broadband availability, use, and access to health care education is paramount in driving primary care physicians to underserved areas.

There are direct and indirect benefits of improved broadband quality and access to health care and the surrounding community:

Direct Effects:

  • More health care professionals to support physicians
  • Increase in educated workforce
  • On average, higher wage jobs
  • Reduced recruiting/turn-over costs due to stronger internal workforce and economy

Indirect Effects:

  • Broadband infrastructure in the area provides secondary use of middle-mile builds by other businesses and families, stregthening the community and increasing flexibility
  • Educated parents tend to have children attend post-high school educational institutions
  • Higher wage jobs reduce poverty and utilization of free and reduced lunch: a key economic trend factor


From technical support to public policy, OHN is driven by the prospect of long-term stability and growth for our health care system. And it all begins with education.


OHN is a dues-based membership organization. Contact us to learn more about providing the best possible health care workforce education experience thanks to state-wide broadband connectivity through the Oregon Health Network.