Dates of Project: December 2004 to April 2006
Field of Work: Workforce development for frontline health care workers
Problem Synopsis: Despite their importance, frontline workers—home health aides, nurse aides, psychiatric technicians, social workers, and human service assistants who often are the first point of contact for patients—are poorly paid, do not receive benefits and have little opportunity for advancement.
Synopsis of the Work: From December 2004 to April 2006, researchers in Baltimore, Boston, New York City, North Carolina, and Washington DC, designed five diverse projects that explored issues impacting the frontline workforce. Their activities included conducting focus groups and interviews with workers, employers, and funders; administering a national survey; and reviewing the literature on existing and past workforce development initiatives.
Key Findings: Key findings from the five projects include:
- Feeling respected by and belonging to the medical team is highly important to frontline workers, yet they feel ambivalent about their role and standing as team members.
- Frontline health care workers are caring, committed and compassionate people dedicated to their profession, and they report a general desire to help people.
- Some 40 percent of licensed social workers identify behavioral health care as their practice focus, making this group the largest single group of active licensed social workers.
- National, state and local funders support a range of strategies related to frontline health care workforce issues, but they showed limited interest in supporting a "Caregiving Collaborative" that spans the child-care and long-term-care sectors.
- As priorities for workforce development, frontline workers in the addiction field urged addiction treatment agencies to adopt a uniform orientation policy and commit to providing excellent clinical supervision. They also wanted stronger networking and mentoring opportunities.