MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsCatalyst PDF FileMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause

MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


New office to study health care workforce

by Ragan Dubose-Morris
South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC)
Like many states, South Carolina has a shortage of critical health care personnel in rural areas of our state, as well as in our hospitals and inner-city neighborhoods. It is estimated that more than 500,000 citizens do not have a primary care provider in their home community, almost 1 million do not have local dental care, and 1.5 million do not have access to mental health care providers. (These figures are based on Health Research and Services Administration estimates of the underserved population in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas in South Carolina as of Sept. 9.)
In order to meet citizen's needs, South Carolina requires an additional 259 primary care providers, 289 dental care providers, and 140 mental health providers. Additionally, while the recent economic recession has eased the nursing shortage temporarily, it has been estimated the state will have only 68 percent of the registered nurse (RN) workforce needed in 2020—a shortage of more than 12,000 RNs (National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration, 2004)—unless nursing programs are greatly expanded. Yet, there is not currently enough nurse faculty in South Carolina to allow such expansion to take place.
Founded with a four-year, $2.1 million start-up grant from The Duke Endowment, the Office of Healthcare Workforce Analysis and Planning (OHWAP) is housed in the South Carolina AHEC at MUSC. The winning grant proposal was a collaborative effort between South Carolina AHEC, the Center for Nursing Leadership at the University of South Carolina (USC) College of Nursing, and the South Carolina Budget and Control Board’s Office of Research and Statistics.
The grant will support the new Office of Healthcare Workforce Research for Nursing within USC. This entity will focus on profiling the current workforce; developing future supply and demand projections for nurses; studying the state’s nursing education pipeline by monitoring trends in the number of students admitted, enrolled, graduating and remaining in active practice within the state; and developing estimates of changes needed in the South Carolina educational system to address the expected demand for nurses.
OHWAP will oversee and coordinate the work of the USC Office of Healthcare Workforce Research for Nursing with the other study groups that will be assembled around health care workforce issues facing our state.
The work of all these groups will draw heavily on health care information compiled through the years by the S.C. Office of Research and Statistics to improve our understanding of the dynamics in the health care workforce in South Carolina.
Linda M. Lacey, a veteran workforce analyst who has helped several states establish similar offices, assumed the role of OHWAP director. The reports and publications generated by OHWAP will provide legislators, education administrators, health care educators, and hospital admini-strators with detailed and current information needed to make informed policy and planning decisions regarding health care workforce issues.
South Carolina AHEC exists to help improve the health of South Carolina’s citizens. Established in 1972, South Carolina AHEC is the only organization in South Carolina that addresses health care workforce needs starting at the level of elementary school education and extending to practicing health care professionals throughout the state. The success of the South Carolina AHEC is due to the excellent partnerships that have been built with South Carolina’s colleges, universities, teaching hospitals and communities.

Friday, Sept. 25, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.