Office for Health Care Workforce Analysis, Planning Established

Ragan Dubose-Morris

Sept. 18, 2009

Office for Health Care Workforce Analysis, Planning Established

Collaborative effort helps address personnel shortage and create long-term strategies

CHARLESTON -- 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.

In order to meet the citizen needs, South Carolina would require 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 about 68 percent of the Registered Nurse (RN) workforce needed in 2020 - a shortage of more than 12,000 RNs - unless nursing programs are greatly expanded. Yet, currently there is not 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 the Medical University of South Carolina. The winning grant proposal was a collaborative effort between South Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), the Center for Nursing Leadership at the 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, led by Mary Foster Cox. 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 over the years by the SC 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 administrators with detailed and current information needed to make informed policy and planning decisions regarding health care workforce issues.

The Duke Endowment, in Charlotte, N.C., seeks to fulfill the legacy of James B. Duke by enriching lives and communities in the Carolinas through higher education, health care, rural churches and children’s services. Since its inception in 1924, the Endowment has awarded more than $2.4 billion in grants.

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.

The Center for Nursing Leadership at the University of South Carolina works to develop and advance dynamic leaders in health care. A major strategy for the center is to be a career-long leadership development resource while focusing on enhancing collaboration and providing a forum for leaders to engage in shaping the future of health care.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 11,000 employees, including 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.6 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit or