Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim summarized a key theme of a WHA-moderated panel concisely: “It’s really all about collaboration, isn’t it?”
Secretary Crim was joined by State Rep. Nancy VanderMeer, Bellin Health System Chief Nursing Officer Laura Hieb and WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk in a panel moderated by WHA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kyle O’Brien. The Policymaker Panel: Solutions to Grow and Support Wisconsin’s Healthcare Workforce was part of the September 24 Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce (WCMEW) 2019 Healthcare Workforce Summit.
Secretary Crim and panelist Hieb touched on a common theme represented throughout the WCMEW Summit as they discussed the importance of health care leaders and educators sharing their expertise and a willingness to work together to create educational programs for urgently-needed professionals and clinical training sites for those enrolled in those programs. As Hieb noted, “We need to be open to taking students at our sites, rural and urban, which can be difficult for areas we already have a shortage in; but we just have to do it.” Hieb added, “We also need to keep moving our culture to reflect the providers and practice we have, and one way to do that is to make sure our own policies and structures accommodate our provider mix of physicians and advanced practice providers.”
Crim and VanderMeer discussed another theme: the ability of state legislators and state agencies to break down barriers for professionals who want to practice in our state. VanderMeer recognized Wisconsin as a leader in utilizing policy solutions like voluntary interstate licensure compacts noting, “The partnership between lawmakers and our state licensing agency, meant that not only could we be part of the compact, but also allowed Wisconsin to be the first state in the U.S. to use the medical licensure compact process to issue a physician license.”
Panel discussion was not limited to policy solutions for training, recruiting and retaining a high-quality health care workforce. “As our population ages,” Zenk noted, “health care demand is rapidly increasing, and despite our best efforts our workforce will not be able to grow fast enough to keep up with this rising demand. Our state policies need to help us most effectively utilize the available health care workforce by, for instance, modernizing telemedicine requirements and reimbursement to keep up with this valuable technology and by eliminating unnecessary documentation and regulatory requirements that create electronic health record inefficiencies.”