Creating a Center on the Workforce for Health: 2022 NCIOM Annual Meeting

Blog | December 14, 2022


On November 15, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine held its 2022 Annual Meeting, “Building the Workforce for a Healthy North Carolina.” During the afternoon breakout sessions, participants had the opportunity to learn from state experts about the impetus for, and current status of, an emerging Center on the Workforce for Health.


Moderated by NCIOM Associate Director Michelle Ries, the session included Hugh Tilson, Jr., director of the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC), and Hilary Campbell, director of Sheps Health Workforce NC at the UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research.


During this session, Ries gave an overview of the partnership between NCIOM, NC AHEC, and the Sheps Center for Health Services Research in developing the concept of a coordinated, integrated, and collaborative Center on the Workforce for Health, focused exclusively on addressing current challenges facing the workforce for health in our state.


Tilson discussed the status of the Center’s development, including the purpose and goals of the Center:


“A North Carolina Center on the Workforce for Health would provide a forum for:

  • the persistent, transparent, and collaborative work that will be necessary to create an intentional statewide system of workforce development that meets the needs of the health care system while prioritizing whole-person health, including the social drivers of health
  • health employers, workers, educators, regulators, policymakers, and others throughout North Carolina to convene, discuss challenges and opportunities, identify potential solutions, investments, and metrics for success, and monitor progress toward addressing these challenges
  • sharing best practices, successes, and lessons learned to help identify and spread any immediate and emerging solutions that exist”


Tilson reviewed the start-up phase of the Center, outlining a process for obtaining stakeholder input on priority areas, activities, governance, and scope, and discussed the need and plans for ongoing discussion on organizational structure and funding. Based on planning to date, the work of the Center would be organized around three integral pillars: Access, Synthesis, and Action. Supporting these pillars would be an integrated communications and collaboration strategy, which would ensure that the Center serves as a platform for delivering key messages, facilitating sharing across networks, and developing consensus-based solutions.


Dr. Campbell then discussed North Carolina data on the health care workforce, including data from the NC Health Professions Data System and key trends identified through NC Nursecast and the NC Sentinel Network surveys. Key points included:

  • The NC Health Professions Data System collects and analyzes data on 21 health care professions across the state. This analysis aims to answer questions about the number of practitioners, geographic distribution, and how they practice. These datasets are processed annually, and the System provides an online visualization of trends back to year 2000.
  • NC Sentinel Network is a partnership with the University of Washington, supported by NC AHEC, to collect data from health care employers about their current experiences with staffing, hiring, and other workforce challenges. The NC Sentinel Network has surveyed health care employers every six months starting in October/November 2021. Sample questions include those on employers’ experiences with vacancies, retention, and turnover; need for new health care occupations; and biggest workforce challenges.
  • Findings from the NC Sentinel Network include consistent vacancies in registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses. Respondents’ comments included:
    • “Hiring contract/travel personnel has resulted in a significant increase in labor costs. Pay rates are rising in the local competitive market making it difficult to attract and retain talent in rural health care.”
    • “Evenings, nights, and weekends have been the most challenging to fill...In some cases, staff...didn’t want to run the risk of working in EVS in a place where COVID was treated.”
  • Findings outlined by NC Nursecast include a forecasted estimated shortage of 12,500 RNs by 2033, based on pre-COVID-19 trends. If factors such as stress and burnout cause nurses to leave their jobs five years earlier, the projected shortage would nearly double.


Tilson, Dr. Campbell, and Ries then discussed potential activities and structures of a Center on the Workforce for Health, and discussed ideas, priorities, and questions with the session audience.


If you are interested in learning more about how you can be involved with ongoing discussions of the Center, please visit and join the mailing list.