WHA’s Council on Workforce Development met Sept. 24 to discuss barriers to growing, recruiting and retaining the health care workforce necessary to meet the increasing demand for health care in Wisconsin. Effectively and efficiently licensing health care professionals ready and willing to work in Wisconsin and addressing violence in health care settings are keys to recruiting and retaining staff.
WHA Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk shared the work that WHA has done to engage the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) in assisting with increasingly urgent workforce shortages. Zenk reported the results of an August 2021 WHA member survey showing high agency use and increased licensure delays, along with a WHA letter
to DSPS Secretary Dawn Crim and Secretary Crim’s response
to WHA. Among the actions WHA urged DSPS to take was to prioritize health care licensure to get health care professionals into the Wisconsin health care workforce more quickly.
DSPS Assistant Deputy Secretary Dan Hereth joined the group to present not only DSPS’s efforts to prioritize health care licensing during the current surge in demand, but also longer-range improvements being made to health care licensing processes to address licensure delays more permanently. Hereth discussed additional staff resources being pursued and software upgrades being made. He noted, “My goal is to have ten high-volume/high-complexity health care licenses converted to the upgraded process by early spring 2022.” Hereth also noted DSPS is reviewing other processes, such as when and how legal review of applications is triggered, to determine opportunities to refine licensing processes.
As WHA has worked to provide DSPS with lists of applicants whose wait for licensure is delaying their employment, Zenk notes, “We’ve discovered that there may be opportunities to more fully utilize the licensure provisions of Wisconsin 2021 Act 10
WHA General Counsel Matthew Stanford joined Hereth and Zenk in discussing 2021 Act 10, the permanent statutory change that enables health care professionals licensed in another state to immediately start practice in Wisconsin while their Wisconsin license application is being processed. Stanford noted the state is “really leveraging the credentialing processes in place at health care employers.”
Stanford shared resources that will help WHA members implement this licensure reform: A recording of a May 5 WHA webinar
on the 2021 Act 10 licensure reform and a written summary
of the 2021 Act 10 licensure reform are available on the WHA website.
The WHA Council on Workforce Development also discussed prevention strategies to address violence in the health care workplace. The group reviewed an overview of the Joint Commission Standards related to Workplace Violence Prevention. These new requirements were released in June, and hospitals must be compliant by January 2022. The Joint Commission Standards are based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other regulatory bodies and provide a framework applicable to The Joint Commission-accredited organizations and those accredited by other bodies. Among the information reviewed is a compendium of resources prepared by The Joint Commission to assist hospitals in implementation of these new standards. This compendium will be the first workplace violence resource posted in the Workplace Violence Prevention Resources section of the WHA member portal and will provide the framework for members sharing their own organizational policies and resources via the portal.
For questions about licensure delays, workplace violence prevention or other health care workforce issues, contact Ann Zenk