MHA CEO Report — GME’s Role in the Healthcare Talent Pipeline

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“Medical education does not exist to provide students with a way of making a living, but to ensure the health of the community.” ― Rudolf Virchow

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOAs we enter the final two months of the MHA program year, our “all-hands-on-deck” prioritization of the healthcare workforce continues, and I am pleased to share that we have made significant strides in this regard. Included in that progress is work with our partners in higher education, other Michigan healthcare associations, hospital clinical leaders and the Michigan Legislature.

One aspect of our workforce efforts is not new. For many years, the MHA has led a special Graduate Medical Education (GME) Advocacy Day, hosted at our MHA Capitol Advocacy Center (CAC) in downtown Lansing. At this event, medical students, residents from teaching hospitals and academic medical centers, and other key leaders converge on the Capitol and meet with legislators to discuss the vital importance of GME funding in the state budget process.

After a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, we are excited to play host once again for this important in-person event, as we will welcome our colleagues to the CAC on May 5.

When this event began, the primary focus was to express the importance of GME and the national prominence that Michigan has earned in medical education. We have more than 7,200 physician residents currently working in the state, which ranks fourth in the nation. In addition, Michigan is third in the country for student enrollment in public medical schools. The investment Michigan makes in GME is very valuable, as every $1 in GME generates $2.53 in federal funding in fiscal year 2022. While the current rate is enhanced due to the existing public health emergency, there is no question that GME funding for Michigan’s beginning physicians is a wise investment for the future healthcare workforce in our state. GME also improves access to care, as it allows physicians to further their medical education while delivering much-needed care to patients throughout Michigan in teaching hospitals, community clinics and laboratories.

The vital role of GME in filling the talent pipeline is more important today than ever, as Michigan hospitals (and the healthcare delivery system in general) struggle with workforce shortages that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those shortages across the state have caused Michigan to lose approximately 1,300 staffed hospital beds over the past 18 months. Nationally, the physician shortage is estimated to be between 37,800 and 124,000 by 2034, including primary care and nonprimary care specialties, as the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates two out of every five active physicians will be 65 or older within the next 10 years.

The participants in our GME Advocacy Day have experienced many of the challenges that we’ve shared with elected officials: stress, burnout, workplace violence, vaccine hesitancy and significant loss of life due to COVID-19 and a host of other medical issues. Their perspective is extremely valuable as we make the case for funding and public policy that ensures the viability of our healthcare infrastructure for years to come. In addition to full funding of the traditional GME pool, there are several related items on the radar screen here in Lansing, including:

  • Included in the state’s Higher Education budget proposal is House Bill 5785, which would provide funding to create a healthcare workforce collaborative between the MHA and Michigan’s public and private post-secondary educational institutions. This partnership would not only provide employers with a better understanding of statewide graduates in health professions, but further improve the knowledge of employment opportunities in healthcare for post-secondary education institutions throughout the state. Included in the collaborative would be the creation of a searchable and accessible repository that allows healthcare employers to understand current educational trends and provides prospective employees easy access to healthcare positions throughout the state.
  • The MHA also supports legislation designed to incentivize more medical school and advanced practice nursing program preceptors by providing new tax credits. Senate Bills 998 and 999 would create a new tax credit for individuals who agree to work as a preceptor for required clinical rotations. We believe this legislation could help increase the capacity for clinical rotations at hospitals across the state, which would also improve the talent pipeline.

As we advocate in support of GME and related issues, we of course greatly appreciate the collaboration of our friends from the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) and Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA). Together, our three associations make up The Partnership for Michigan’s Health, which has a long history of working together on healthcare issues of common interest, including the achievement of major medical liability reforms in the early 1990s, which established the foundation for much of our advocacy work in the Legislature and the courts ever since.

Most recently, the collective voice of our three associations, along with associations representing various other areas of healthcare, led to successfully securing $300 million in state funding for the recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers. Collectively, the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Coalition was created to focus on workers already within the healthcare workforce. Gov. Whitmer also recently signed Senate Bill 247 that would decrease wait times for commercial insurance prior authorization requests, a priority for all three associations. We are also united in our opposition to Senate Bill 990 that would create a serious public health risk by licensing naturopathic practitioners and classifying them as physicians. As healthcare associations, the professional careers of our members are dedicated to serving their patients and protecting the health and safety of the public. This opposition is an example of our need to protect the public from a practice that lacks scientifically proven treatment methods and clinical training.

In addition, we have long collaborated with MSMS and MOA to produce The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan Report, which provides a detailed look at the extensive roles hospitals and health systems play in their local economies. Work is underway on the next issue of the report. The MHA Keystone Center Board of Directors has also designated one seat each for the MSMS and the MOA since its inception to ensure physician representation as we strategize on safety and quality improvement issues. And finally, the MHA and the MOA literally got closer last year when the MOA relocated its offices to the MHA headquarters building in Okemos – an arrangement that is unique anywhere in the country.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the MHA’s new focus on engaging with our physician leaders. For the first time ever, the MHA will be hosting activities dedicated to our physician leaders during our MHA Annual Meeting, including several sessions that will include CME credits. MHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Roth is leading these efforts, which complement his work throughout the pandemic engaging with our health system chief medical officers to facilitate consistent and reliable dialogue that allowed the MHA to efficiently provide policy updates to our clinicians as well as real-time feedback to policymakers. We’re extremely fortunate to have Dr. Roth, as the MHA is one of just a few state hospital associations with a full-time CMO on its leadership team.

Lastly, in an effort to fully support our physician colleagues (and other caregivers), the MHA Keystone Center is offering the Well-being Essentials for Learning Life-Balance (WELL-B) webinar series to prevent healthcare burnout by delivering weekly webinars on evidence-based well-being topics, including prevalence and severity of burnout, relationship resilience and being present. It is encouraging to see that over 4,000 individuals have already signed up for this innovative program.

As you can see, there is no magic pill that can solve the healthcare staffing crisis overnight. It will take many years and a multitude of public and private solutions to protect access for all of Michigan’s communities. GME is one of those key solutions, and we call on our elected officials – and all Michiganders – to give it the support it deserves.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Media Join Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance Press Conference

MHA CEO Brian Peters

MHA CEO Brian PetersThe MHA conducted Nov. 4 a virtual press conference announcing the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance, a newly formed partnership with the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM), the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services (MAAS), the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) and the American Nurses Association of Michigan (ANA-MI). The press conference featured Michigan healthcare and education leaders advocating for a $650 million investment to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.

Speakers included:

  • MHA CEO Brian Peters.
  • HCAM President/CEO Melissa Samuel.
  • MAAS Executive Director Angela Madden.
  • MCCA President Michael Hansen.

Over a dozen media outlets from across the state joined the call, including MLive, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Michigan Radio, MiBiz, The Center Square and Gongwer. Stories from these publications and more were widely syndicated throughout Michigan.

Following the press conference, a press release was distributed to statewide media echoing the remarks made during the event.

Members with questions on advocacy and workforce sustainability efforts should contact Adam Carlson, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Newly Formed Healthcare, Education Alliance Calls for Historic Investment in Staffing and Talent Development

Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance Logo

Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance LogoMichigan leaders advocate for a $650 million supplemental to support medical services, workforce pipeline

A newly formed coalition – the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance – has released a plan more than 19 months into the pandemic calling upon Michigan’s elected officials to address the emerging crisis of a shortage of healthcare workers to provide lifesaving medical care.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) in collaboration with the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM), Michigan Association of Ambulance Services (MAAS), Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), and American Nurses Association of Michigan (ANA-MI) are advocating for a $650 million investment to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.

“Michigan healthcare workers are the essential responders to the COVID-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, the healthcare staffing shortage that existed pre-pandemic has become significantly worse in recent months,” said Brian Peters, CEO of the MHA. “Staffing at our hospitals is absolutely a crisis. With the support of our partners in the healthcare and education sectors, we are pleading with our Legislature to fund a future for the healthcare workforce that will help ensure lifesaving services are able to continue across our state.”

The Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance is calling upon the Michigan Legislature to pass a $650 million supplemental to recruit and retain healthcare workers and a scholarship program to establish a workforce pipeline. The proposed Healthcare Worker Payments would be directed to healthcare front-line workers and health facility employees.

“The shortage of Michigan EMS heroes is getting worse by the day, and we desperately need more paramedics and EMTs in the field,” said Angela Madden, executive director of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services. “The lack of training options has become a crisis for EMS and we’re proud to work with our fellow healthcare partners to help get more workers into healthcare fields quickly.”

The Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program would be designed to provide two years of scholarships to individuals pursuing a degree in a clinical healthcare field. The Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program would provide payments at qualifying institutions. Based upon estimates of eligible Michigan residents, grant amounts and years in the program, it is estimated that as many as 25,000 students would qualify for and could take advantage of the Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program.

“The state of our healthcare system has a direct impact on the health of our future. We need lifesaving care and transport, which means we need people able to provide those services,” said Michael Hansen, president of the MCCA. “Establishing a pipeline for these jobs by incentivizing students to go into and afford these careers is absolutely necessary to ensuring our communities stay healthy and appropriately staffed.”

Michigan hospitals have reached new record-high occupancy rates, requiring staff scheduling and capacity adjustments several times daily to preserve patient care standards. For many healthcare facilities, vacancy rates are 20% or more of their workforce. Patients experience delays of sometimes several days waiting for transport between a hospital and a nursing home, inpatient psychiatric hospital or rehabilitation facility due to the shortage of qualified paramedics. Some hospitals must regularly divert ambulances away from their emergency departments, which delays emergent care, especially in Michigan’s many rural areas.

“Working in long-term care is a calling, a fulfilling career that gives people a purpose,” said Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of HCAM. “Caregivers who have served on the front lines of a health crisis the world has not experienced in 100 years need and deserve our support. The pandemic has made an expected shortage of healthcare workers happen sooner and to a much worse degree. New admissions to skilled nursing facilities are being limited or halted because providers are taking a proactive measure to focus their care on current residents. We must address this workforce crisis to ensure our seniors have access to the care they need.”

Healthcare workforce staffing shortages existed prior to COVID-19 but have worsened and are expected to persist beyond the pandemic. Michigan must address both the short- and the long-term workforce crisis that is driving this problem before it forces even more difficult healthcare decisions. Contrary to the early support shown to healthcare workers in the beginning months of the pandemic, a 2021 survey has found that 34% of nurses reported experiencing workplace violence, which can lead to higher rates of burnout.

More detail about the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance’s $650 million plan will be available at www.mha.org as the group continues to work with policymakers.