Improving the Health Care Workforce

Perspectives from Twenty-Four Years' Experience

Today's health care workforce, about 11 million strong, includes people working in jobs ranging from laboratory technician to nurse and from speech pathologist to physician. It is the fastest growing segment of the nation's labor market, employing one out of every 10 workers.

Typically, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looks at its programs one at a time. This chapter is a rare instance of stepping back and looking at the entire body of the Foundation's efforts in one specific area. This overview provides a broad-based perspective of a strategy that has lasted nearly 25 years and it offers insights about the value of the strategy.

The chapter represents the effort of two senior Foundation officials and one outside analyst to make sense of what the Foundation has done and to examine the strengths and weaknesses of a large, long-term investment strategy. At the time this article was written, the lead author, Stephen L. Isaacs, was president of the Center for Health and Social Policy in Pelham, N.Y. Both Steven A. Schroeder, former president of the Foundation, and Lewis G. Sandy, former executive vice president of the Foundation, have had a long interest in, and have written about, workforce issues.