A Health Professional Workforce Summit, held on April 12 in Albuquerque, NM, gave participants an opportunity to meet in person and develop strategies for retention of clinicians in the state. The one-day event sparked discussions based upon real data, as opposed to supposition and/or anecdote, according to Britt Catron, Director of the New Mexico Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (NM SORH). Summit participants included non-profit employers, health care providers, members of the NM legislature, Residency Program Directors, and representatives from institutions of higher education and other state government agencies.

New workforce data from the Findings of the First Year Retention Survey of the Multi-State/NHSC Retention Collaborative, conducted by the Cecil B. Sheps Center for Workforce Research of the University of North Carolina, was presented by Jerry Harrison and Kim Kinsley from New Mexico Health Resources (NMHR), and Harvey Licht from  Varela Consulting, who was the meeting facilitator. The survey polled National Health Service Corps loan repayers and scholars, in addition to those obligated through the New Mexico Higher Education Loan Repayment Program.  [Some of the survey findings also will be presented in a session at the NRHA Annual Meeting this month.] Summit participants reviewed survey results, and made comments and recommendations for future action. Catron said that the Summit additionally included a review of the literature on health professional retention, bringing information up-to date in light of generational, discipline, and health system delivery system changes (since much of the earlier literature was published in the 1990s). “I think everyone added to the development of strategies for the retention of health care professionals, and provided very rich discussions about the issue of retaining health care providers in our rural, frontier and underserved communities throughout the state,” Catron said. “After the event there were discussions about holding another Summit so that the work does not stop.”

“The Summit was a great example of SORH coordination and leveraging of resources by the NM SORH,” said Stephanie Hansen, NOSORH Education and Services Director, who attended the meeting. “It provided an opportunity for all of the partners to get together and discuss the past, present, and future of the health care workforce in the state.”

The NM SORH contracted with NMHR to coordinate health professional workforce research through the Sheps Center, in conjunction with 11 other states, and to organize the Summit. The NM SORH applied for funding through the Retention and Evaluation Activities Initiative of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which aims to coordinate activities to increase retention of health care providers and to evaluate the efficacy of specific retention models and the impact of ARRA funding on communities.