MERC Health Workforce and Related Research
Health Workforce Research
In March 2000, the Department established a committee to examine issues related to health workforce needs in Minnesota and to determine whether it would be appropriate and feasible for MERC to take a more proactive role in workforce issues, either through a modification of the distribution formula or through the establishment of a new funding mechanism that could more explicitly provide incentives for the training of specific provider types, specialties or geographic areas. The workforce committee met several times to study available state and national employment, vacancy and demand data for the provider types covered by MERC, and to determine whether existing data were sufficiently detailed to allow for identification of specialty-level demand or shortages.
The committee determined that more detail by specialty and geography was needed before any modifications to MERC distribution mechanisms could be made. The committee also felt that many of the existing demand-focused data collection tools did not fully address issues of how and why health professionals make practice-related decisions, key information for developing policy responses for recruitment and retention of these workers. The committee determined that new, more detailed data would be necessary before MERC could discuss taking a more active role in influencing the size, distribution or composition of the health professions workforce.
After examining medical resident exit surveys designed by SUNY- Albany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies, the committee recommended that MDH develop a set of similar tools to survey students and residents who were completing programs in Minnesota that would qualify them to enter one of the professions included in the MERC Fund. Based on this recommendation, the Department began administering a set of six surveys to graduating dental students and residents, pharmacy students and residents, resident physicians, and advanced practice nursing, physician assistant, and chiropractic students in the spring of 2001. The fourth round of surveys, covering 2005 graduates, is underway. The next survey will be in 2007.