At first blush you may wonder how workforce shortages and wellness could possibly be related. Workforce shortages contribute to the wellness of providers and the populations they serve. From the provider perspective, the symptoms of workforce shortages may sound like “I spend too many hours at work” or “I see too many patient appointments in a day.” Without sufficient support from peers and colleagues, providers are more likely to feel isolated, overwhelmed, and experience burnout. The bottom line: workforce shortages contribute to burnout and threaten provider wellness.
Now, you may be wondering how this impacts population wellness. Providers experiencing burnout are more likely to reduce the number of hours they work and/or leave practice all together. In underserved communities, provider burnout contributes to exacerbating existing workforce shortages and further threatens access to the health care services, including those critical to wellness (examples: vaccination, well-child visits, prenatal care.) It’s a vicious cycle.
How can we fix this problem? Policies to address workforce shortages are an important part of the solution. Loan Repayment Programs (LRP) support recruitment of providers in workforce shortage areas. These programs reduce provider debt burden and encourage practice in underserved communities. Over the last several legislative sessions in Indiana there have been more than 15 LRP bills proposed, and this year 4 bills are on the table. At the Bowen Center, we are keeping our finger on the pulse of these important initiatives and providing data and research to inform related conversations. Do you want more information? Contact us at Bowenctr@iu.edu.