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Initiative aims to solve healthcare crisis

Jul. 30—The Council on Postsecondary Education has launched a new initiative in the effort to solve Kentucky’s health care crisis.

The state’s Healthcare Workforce Collaborative is a $10 million initiative funded by the legislature to bring state leaders, policy experts, campus leadership and the health care industry together.

The appropriation, designated in the 2022 budget and to be administered by the CPE, will serve several purposes:

—Providing direct grants to Kentucky’s public institutions.

—Funding administrative, research, consulting, planning and analysis costs for an advisory group.

—Raising student awareness of and interest in healthcare occupations.

—Improving pathways between high school career and technical programs to college-level health care programs.

—Helping health care organizations support career growth and development for their employees.

According to an executive order signed by Gov. Andy Beshear on Dec. 9, 2021, the Kentucky Nurses Association indicated that Kentucky is operating 12-20% short of the needed nursing volume.

Kentucky colleges and universities are facing challenges when working to address these gaps, however.

Shortages of nursing and other healthcare faculty due to lack of competitive pay, limited access to clinical sites for students, a lack of modern training equipment and supplies, and few mental health and social support services for students in highly-competitive programs are a few of the issues facing potential healthcare workers today, according to the CPE.

“Kentucky doesn’t have enough healthcare workers now, and it will be more dire in the future,” said Leslie Sizemore, senior fellow for Workforce and Economic Development at CPE.

Sizemore said the state has decided to focus funding on developing a method for higher education institutions to help with moving frontline healthcare workers into the talent pipeline in a quick and effective manner to meet the needs of Kentuckians in the future.

Every two- and four-year public institution is participating in this collaboration, with the potential of it opening up to private colleges and universities, Sizemore said. That proposal is set to be made during the next legislative session.

Sizemore said they are also wanting to diversify the frontline healthcare workers in race, ethnicity and gender.

According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, the percentage of state graduates employed in-state after five years is:

—76% with an associates degree

—75% with a diploma

—65% with a certificate

—59% with a bachelors degree

—50% with a masters degree

—42% with a doctorate degree

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