Researchers, Practitioners, Community Members, and Policymakers Gather for NCIOM’s Annual Meeting on the Workforce for Health
More than 200 North Carolinians convened at NC State University’s McKimmon Center in Raleigh on November 15 to network, reflect, and work toward health policy solutions in our state.
This year’s NCIOM annual meeting focused on the challenges of recruitment, retention, and support for North Carolina’s workforce for health.
Keynote speaker Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, a national leader in nursing, health equity, and leadership development, kicked off the day with a talk about preparing the health workforce for the future, with a special focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nursing workforce.
Sharing new data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hassmiller explained that the total RN supply in the United States dropped in 2021 by nearly 200,000 more than what had been forecast. Many who left the nursing workforce were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, and while some have returned, those who worked in hospitals are not rejoining those ranks.
“Health worker well-being must come from multiple levels and be an organizational value,” she said, noting that some frontline workers now describe feeling “resilience rage” and frustration with individual-focused wellness initiatives.
“We need to bring joy back into the workforce,” Hassmiller said, “and I believe we can.”
Erin P. Fraher, PhD, MPP, program director of the Carolina Health Workforce Research Center at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, then led a plenary panel about strategies for change.
The panel focused on equity and the importance of community health workers. Participants included Cherry Maynor Beasley, PhD, MS, FNP, RN, CNE, FAAN, associate dean and the chief nursing officer for the McKenzie-Elliott School of Nursing at UNC-Pembroke; Honey Yang Estrada, MPH, CHW, president of the North Carolina Community Health Worker Association; John R. Lumpkin, MD, MPH, FAAN, president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and vice president of Drivers of Health Strategy for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; Mark F. Dunn, CPC, MSL, chief diversity, inclusion, and talent management officer at ECU Health; and Walker Wilson, MPH, assistant secretary for policy at the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
After the plenary panel, attendees dispersed to breakout sessions on:
During lunch, sponsored by the North Carolina Nurses Association, the NCIOM launched a year of celebrating its 40th anniversary, with a video looking back on our history, acknowledging our evolution, and looking forward to the future.
Afternoon breakout sessions included:
The event concluded with a lively legislative roundtable, moderated by Hugh Tilson, JD, MPH, director of NC AHEC, including Representative Gale Adcock (D – 41), Senator Jim Burgin (R – 12), Representative Carla Cunningham (D – 106), Representative Wayne Sasser (R – 67), Representative Donna White (R – 26), and Senator Mike Woodard (D – 22).
“When you come to my office, what I want to hear is how what you’re doing is going to impact the patient,” said Rep. Sasser.
“Patients need time to digest information…that’s exactly how you should approach us,” Rep. Adcock said.
In closing, Rep. Sasser shared this message: “I hope what we learned from COVID was that we need to treat our employees better.”
The Presenting Sponsor of the NCIOM’s 2022 annual meeting was the BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina Foundation. Our Partner Sponsor was the Winer Family Foundation. Our Gold Sponsor was the North Carolina Nurses Association. Silver Sponsors included the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, Carolina Complete Health, the