The Utah Medical Education Council (UMEC) was created in 1997 with the mission to conduct healthcare workforce research and became part of the Utah System of Higher Education in 2013. UMEC’s mission includes advising on Utah’s medical workforce needs, influencing graduate medical education financing policies, and working with state legislators, schools of medicine, and numerous healthcare organizations to ensure that Utah’s healthcare workforce is sufficient to address both the short and long-term demand required by Utah communities. UMEC is uniquely positioned to assist state, higher education and industry leaders in decisions involving Utah’s healthcare workforce.
Rural Healthcare Needs
UMEC provides medical training in rural locations throughout Utah. 23 of 29 counties in Utah currently have some form of Primary Care Health Professional Shortage. UMEC plays a critical pipeline role in helping maintain rural clinical rotations in rural parts of the state to improve chronic healthcare shortages of underserved communities in Utah. These rotations increase access to healthcare for underserved areas in Utah, provide medical professionals with unique insight into providing care in rural locations, and lower barriers that could prevent a medical professional from choosing to practice in a rural location.
In addition, a variety of Utah-specific workforce reports focused on the healthcare are produced by UMEC. For example:
- UMEC recently published its annual Graduate Medical Education Report. This report measures the retention of graduates trained in medical fields in Utah. This helps inform the healthcare industry, higher education and policy makers better support a skilled and well-dispersed physician workforce in Utah. Monitoring the distribution of physicians by geography and specialty are insightful to help them meet the needs of both their individual institution as well as the health of Utah’s communities.
- Another recent publication is the Utah’s Pharmacist Workforce Report, 2014. The last two reports (2002, 2009) indicated Utah was experiencing a shortage of pharmacists. The new report, however, indicates that Utah’s workforce is meeting the current overall demands in Utah communities. However, the report also highlights a significant contrast in the gender composition of practicing pharmacists compared with the nation.
- UMEC published two fact sheets on Utah’s dentist workforce (fact sheet 1, report 2). These were a follow up to more comprehensive reports done in 2002 and 2006.
Upcoming reports include physician assistants and updates on the dentist workforce scheduled for release in 2015. Also, UMEC recently became the state’s designated Nursing Workforce Information Center and is planning to have the first Utah nursing workforce report published by early 2016.