The funding will support career pathways programs that encourage students to consider careers in healthcare
The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health is partnering with the Idaho Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to promote career opportunities in the healthcare sector to secondary school students, an important step in addressing a severe workforce shortage that threatens access to healthcare.
A report released by the Mayo Clinic in 2021 concluded that 1 in 5 doctors and 2 in 5 nurses plan to leave the profession within the coming two years, and another third of doctors and nurses plan to reduce their work hours. These trends are true in Idaho: the state is projected to lose one-third of its nursing workforce over the coming several years, and in June of 2023, there were nearly 5,600 open healthcare jobs.
The Foundation is providing a $450,000 grant to support AHEC programs across the state. The three-year grant ($150,000 in funding each year) will support the development of a health profession’s career pathway coalition and programs that encourage students to pursue careers in healthcare.
“We have a healthcare workforce shortage — a crisis — that requires an upstream approach to solve,” said Kendra Witt-Doyle, Executive Director, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “We need to encourage youth to go into healthcare professions. This grant to AHEC will allow for streamlined workforce pathway programs focusing on Idaho’s youth, especially in rural Idaho.”
“The Idaho AHEC Program Office is grateful for the recognition that the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health is giving to the important issue of health workforce shortages in our state,” said Diana Schow, Director, Idaho AHEC Program Office. “Their commitment to supporting pathway programs for junior high and high school students from rural and underserved areas will introduce new opportunities and inspire the state’s youth to consider careers in the health professions.”
Idaho AHEC pathways programs are taught by local health professionals and educate students about the types of health careers available in Idaho.
“Programs such as Doc for a Day and Hands-On Health Care increase students’ awareness, interest, and understanding of health careers available in Idaho,” said Liz Bryant, Director, North Idaho AHEC. “Attendees participate in interactive sessions while learning about the path to becoming a healthcare professional. The confidence and enthusiasm fostered at these events are critical building blocks in the students’ professional futures. Thanks to the generosity of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation, we will be able to greatly expand the delivery of our youth pathway programs, partnering with communities to ‘grow their own’ future health workforce.”
The Foundation’s work in its healthcare focus area identifies opportunities to increase the quantity and quality of Idaho’s healthcare workforce, while improving access to care and addressing rural healthcare challenges in the state.
“The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s generous funding will power our health workforce pathway initiatives over the next three years,” said Katrina Hoff, Director, Southwest Idaho AHEC. “Our commitment to providing middle and high school students with valuable insights into healthcare careers and pathways plays a vital role in our overarching mission of enhancing the accessibility, diversity, and availability of primary healthcare professionals serving rural and underserved communities.”
“Funding for pathway programs aligns greatly with the overall goals of AHEC to not only build healthcare up in Idaho but enhance the outreach of care in rural and underserved communities throughout the state,” said Dawson Keller, Southeast Idaho AHEC Pipeline Director. “We are super grateful to the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for giving us the opportunity to help grow interest in healthcare throughout Idaho.”