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Health Care Workforce Planning & Development Activities

The Office of Healthcare Access (OHA) is responsible for a variety of workforce development activities. OHA staff manages workforce programs, provides technical assistance to sites, and supports statewide workforce development training. The Section conducts research and ongoing data collection related to health care workforce. Community needs, agency concerns, and available resources guide the Section’s involvement in workforce planning and development.

Our workforce activities are carried out under programs in our Section such as the Alaska State Office of Rural Health, the Primary Care Office, the Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, the Community Health Aide Training and Supervision Grant Program, the Comprehensive Integrated Mental Health Plan, and Oral Health Workforce Program.

OHA’s Key Health Care Workforce Responsibilities:

Workforce Programs:

  • National Health Service Corps (NHSC) — OHA is the key point of contact for the NHSC and is responsible for a number of NHSC activities. NHSC is a federally funded Health Resources and Services Administration program assisting communities and health care professionals to provide quality health care. OHA staff work to recruit qualified sites and providers to participate in the NHSC program. OHA staff help identify health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) used to direct NHSC placements. Staff work to assure that sites that apply for participation meet the qualifications of the NHSC and that providers are aware of this resource. NHSC scholars are new physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and other health professionals who received scholarships through the program in exchange for a placement in an underserved community. Separately, the NHSC loan repayment program forgives student loans in exchange for work in an underserved location.
  • Alaska’s SHARP Program – The State of Alaska manages two loan repayment/direct incentive programs to increase retention and recruitment of selected health care practitioners to improve access to care for underserved and vulnerable populations. There are two components to the SHARP Program: SHARP-I and SHARP-II. SHARP-I receives federal funding along with non-federal matching funds while SHARP-II is funded by the state and employer matches. Practitioners must be work-ready and licensed (or exempt from licensure). The types of eligible practitioners generally include primary care providers (mid-level and physician), dentists, hygienists, and behavioral health providers. Both programs are open for applications only during specific solicitation periods. Go to the SHARP website for more details.
  • Community Health Aide Training and Supervision (CHATS) Grant Program - OHA manages the state-funded Community Health Aide Training & Supervision Program. The CHATS Program provides state-funded grants to sixteen tribal organizations. OHA works with the Community Health Aide Program directors and the ANTHC CHA Program staff.
  • Community Health Aide Certification Board – A OHA staff member is DHSS’s representative on the CHAP Certification Board.
  • J-1 Visa Conrad 30 WaiversAlaska’s J-1 Visa Conrad 30 Waiver program enables the state health department to find that it is in the public interest for a foreign medical graduate to be hired for a hard-to-fill position that provides care to an underserved population. Up to 30 J-1 physicians are allowed per year under the J-1 Visa Conrad 30 program. Additionally, under the J-1 Visa Conrad 30 “Flex 10” option, up to ten J-1 physicians annually can work in a medical facility that is not located in a health professional shortage area but that serves residents of shortage areas.
    Alaska J-1/Conrad 30 guidelines: Alaska DHSS guidelines regarding J-1 Visa Waivers
  • 3RNet — OHA is Alaska’s lead contact with the 3RNet  (Rural Recruitment and Retention Network), a web site which provides a national resource for recruiting applicants for Alaska medical and health care professional vacancies. Alaska sites can describe their locations and list their vacancies free of charge. 3Rnet also provides updated research regarding recruitment and retention issues.  (
  • Recruitment networking — OHA works collaboratively with agency directors, human resource staff and recruiters in the State.

Workforce Training /Technical Assistance:

  • Individual technical assistance — OHA provides technical assistance to primary care and behavioral health sites, private providers, and other health care organizations on health care workforce issues.
  • Rural Hospitals -– The Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program supports workforce development and collaborative relationships between critical access hospitals and emergency medical services. We fund a hospital to hospital CEO/CFO mentoring program and an internship program for master’s students interested in rural hospital management.
  • Preceptor/Cultural Awareness Trainings — OHA provides community trainings for health care site student preceptors, including training and resources for student interns and sites related to cultural awareness.
  • Workforce Development Training and Conferences – OHA shares tools, best practices and current research findings at conferences and health summits within the State and Northwest region, such as the annual Alaska Health Summit and NW Regional Critical Access Hospital and Rural Health Conferences.

Workforce Research:

  • Provider Survey/Vacancy Research - OHA staff track placement, vacancy rates, and turnover of health care professionals. 2009 projects include Dental Workforce in Alaska planning grant from HRSA, and Alaska Primary Care Office analyses of retention patterns for the health care professions. A summary of other states’ loan repayment programs (2008) is included in a briefing paper online.
  • Funding for Workforce Research — OHA locates funding sources and possible partnerships for workforce development in and for rural Alaska.
  • Workforce Development Strategies – OHA staff research and develop issue briefs on workforce development strategies such as loan repayment and recruitment strategies
  • Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) — OHA prepares and submits HPSA applications for sites to HRSA. HPSAs are federal designations that may apply to a geographic area or population which allows programs to take advantage of certain workforce, such as applying for NHSC participation, and multiple other federally-supported programs

Workforce Reports:

  • Alaska Workforce Vacancy Study (2012) –- University of Alaska Anchorage. The Alaska Workforce Vacancy Study (2012) will be available soon. Data tables and some appendices are available now.
  • Alaska Health Care Data Book — a report summarizing the current state of our knowledge regarding many factors that impact the health of Alaskans, and provides a quantitative portrayal of our health care system.
  • Alaska Workforce Plan 2010 -an statewide collaborative report describing workforce development strategies, action steps, resources, evaluation strategies, priorities, and forecasts for health care occupations in Alaska

Collaboration with other Organizations Concerned about Health Care Workforce:

The Health Planning and Systems Development Section works with numerous organizations to assess and address health care workforce issues. Some of the key organizations include:

For more information, please contact:

Office of Health Care Access
Jerrine Regester  (907) 465-5669