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Responding to Oregon’s health care workforce crisis: OHSU seeks to expand student body, increase education program diversity

With its OHSU 30-30-30 proposal, university aims to grow its clinician graduates by 30%, increase student diversity to 30% — all by 2030
Robertson Life Sciences Building in Portland is a newer and large building with a lot of glass windows, which houses many labs and the OHSU School of Dentistry.
OHSU has proposed a plan of action that will grow the rate of select health care clinical program graduates by 30% and increase OHSU learner diversity to 30% by the year 2030. (OHSU)

As Oregon simultaneously experiences a health care workforce crisis and widespread health inequity — exacerbated by COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact on underserved communities — Oregon Health & Science University is working to significantly increase the number of graduates from its health care programs, adding thousands of new, high-quality clinicians to the state’s hospitals and clinics within the next 10 years.

Without legislative action, workforce challenges in Oregon will only become more pronounced: By 2030 the state is expected to see a nearly 40% increase in demand for physician assistants, and a more than 60% increase for nurse practitioners — exceeding national averages. Additionally, the Oregon Health Authority’s 2021 Health Care Workforce Needs Assessment Report indicates a dire need to increase workforce diversity and geographic distribution to better address the unique health care needs of community members statewide.

In an effort to expand culturally competent health care access for Oregonians in communities across the state, OHSU has proposed a plan of action that will grow the rate of select health care clinical program graduates by 30% and increase OHSU learner diversity to 30% by the year 2030. 

The plan, called OHSU 30-30-30, was presented to the OHSU board of directors today; it will be considered by state lawmakers during the 2022 Oregon State Legislative Session next month.

What OHSU 30-30-30 means for Oregon

David Robinson, Ph.D. (OHSU) A man with dark gray hair with a suit and tie, smiling.
David Robinson, Ph.D. (OHSU)

According to OHSU Interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Robinson, Ph.D., OHSU 30-30-30 will allow the university to graduate more than 2,000 additional health care professionals — including nurses, clinical psychologists, physician assistants, human nutritionists, public health leaders and the like — within the decade.

“As Oregon’s public academic health center, OHSU has a proven track record of graduating the next generation of health care professionals, the majority of whom stay in Oregon to help improve the well-being of residents across the state,” says Robinson. “OHSU 30-30-30 means a larger — and more representative — health care workforce in Oregon that understands, and can address, the unique needs of the state’s diverse and rural communities.”

To support the implementation of this plan through 2030, OHSU will request a $45 million prioritized investment from the Oregon State Legislature that will help to:

George Mejicano, M.D., M.S. - A man with light brown hair, smiling, in a blue shirt.
George Mejicano, M.D., M.S. (OHSU)

“It is essential that we invest in the future of Oregon’s health care workforce with key focus on recruiting, training and graduating more learners that represent the growing needs and diversity of the state,” said George Mejicano, M.D., M.S., senior associate dean for education in the OHSU School of Medicine. “Without these efforts, Oregon will not be prepared to adequately address ongoing health care needs and future public health crises, which will only widen the health equity gap across our state.”

Additional information about OHSU 30-30-30, including detail of OHSU’s request for state investment, is available here: OHSU's Role in Addressing Oregon's Health Care Workforce Crisis

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