Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Consortium Seeks to Shape New Workforce

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Consortium Seeks to Shape New Workforce

Article excerpt

As we know from last year's Congressional battle, the high cost of and increased demand for health care, rapid technological change and dramatic employment growth in the field has fueled an outpouring of studies, proposals and legislative initiatives on the U.S. system of health care. Each of these has an impact on health science and technology education programs that prepare potential employees in the health services industry. How do we keep them all straight? One way is through the National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education (NCHSTE), a national partnership of individuals and organizations with a vested interest in the health care workforce. Formed in 1991, the group's mission is to respond to national policy on the preparation and employment of health care personnel.

Formation of the consortium followed numerous discussions among health careers educators from several key states. The group recognized the critical need to reduce duplication and fragmentation of health care education efforts. It also wants to position the education system to meet the needs of health care providers, who are attempting to restructure their workforce to contain costs and better care for patients.

The health care reform issue has caused the industry to respond with both cost containment measures and more patient-centered care. One action under way is the regrouping of job responsibilities of health care providers. Recent surveys have determined that on an average two-day stay, a hospital patient sees 48 to 65 different practitioners, illustrating dramatic over-specialization in the field. For example, the phlebotomist who draws blood may not transport it, and the technician who tests the blood may not report on it.

As the health care industry determines the broader scope of jobs within the field, educators in the consortium are working with their colleagues to ensure that new job groupings make sense and that education programs are closely aligned with the re-engineering of the workforce. We want to be in lockstep with industry to be sure that the students we prepare have the skills they want.

For example, instead of preparing an X-ray technician with a "limited permit" for exposing particular parts of the body or a phlebotomist who only draws blood, we are talking about preparing a diagnostic assistant or technician who can do all kinds of X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, lab work and so forth.

Charter consortium members, which number about 20, include representatives of seven state departments of education (California, Iowa, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah), teachers from Texas, HOSA, the American Society of Healthcare Human Resource Administrators the American Hospital Association and Kaiser Permanente. Publishers affiliated with NCHSTE are Brady-Regents/P.H., D.C.M. Systems, Delmar Publishers, Mosby Lifeline and W.B. Saunders Company.

The consortium has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, The National Center for Research in Vocational Education and the American Vocational Association. These endorsements will aid the consortium as it applies for grants and contracts to continue its work.

Plans call for the expansion of consortium membership to any agency, association or individual interested in promoting and implementing the consortium's goals:

* Promote and strengthen collaboration among health care stakeholders. …

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