Health & Medicine

Sacramento selected for White House health care job program

The White House has chosen Sacramento and six other cities as pilot sites for its new Health Career Pathways program, a federal initiative that aims to increase the number of Americans working in sustainable, well-paying health care jobs.

Over the next decade, 3.5 million new U.S. jobs will be created in the health care sector, and thousands of positions in the field remain unfilled, according to the White House. Demand is expected to grow as baby boomers age and require advanced care.

Using a White House strategy, each city’s hospitals, community colleges and workforce agencies will identify needs and demands in the health care workforce. They’ll provide tailored training and support job seekers from low-income backgrounds building careers in the field.

As part of the program, Dignity Health, Sutter Health, the UC Davis Health System and Kaiser Permanente were recognized for improving health career training to meet workforce needs over the past decade. Workforce development specialists from the area’s hospitals have used state and federal funding to develop nursing residency programs and donate medical equipment to local colleges.

Their future work will inform the workforce agenda of the California Hospital Association and serve as a model for the state, according to the release.

The White House designation does not come with any direct funding. Anette Smith-Dohring, workforce development director for Sutter Health, said she is confident it will lead to grant opportunities.

“You look at where your gaps are in the larger market, what numbers you need to provide care to your patients, and if there’s a gap, talk about what you can do about it,” Smith-Dohring said. “Typically in order to expand production at an institution, that requires additional faculty, additional clinical space and funding. You’re looking at developing someone without a skill set and getting them able to practice in two years.”

The Health Career Pathways initiative chose the Sacramento area for the pilot program because health care providers here have already drawn diverse talent, said Martin Scaglione, CEO and president of Hope Street Group, a national foundation that helps cities boost economic development. Sacramento’s hospitals participated in a March White House round table on the issue.

“Sacramento has a wonderful coalition of partners working to source and (train) talent for the demands of the health care industry,” Scaglione said. “There are four major hospitals working in cooperation with community colleges and workforce agencies. They’ve demonstrated their ability to work well together.”

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola