Preparing the Next Generation of the Healthcare Workforce

The Next Generation of the Healthcare Workforce Fall Convening featured in-depth report outs on outcomes and accomplishments from NGA’s four Learning Collaborative States – California, Colorado, Missouri, and Wyoming.

by Elijah McCabe

The healthcare workforce has experienced a number of challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, that have elevated concerns over recruiting and retaining the next generation of the healthcare workforce. As concerns over the supply of workers rise, the need for Governors’ offices and state agencies to bolster and support the healthcare workforce remains critical to meeting the health and human service needs of their citizens.  

In response to this situation, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) launched a project to centralize information sharing and assist states in supporting and growing the next generation of the healthcare workforce. This consisted of a “learning collaborative,” where a group of four states participated in intensive technical assistance and planning with NGA, as well as a “knowledge exchange network” where a broader group of states participated in webinars and had access to resources provided through NGA. The project brings the expertise of two NGA Center teams together—the Healthcare Delivery and Postsecondary Education teams —to marry the perspective of health, education, and workforce policymakers so they can jointly help Governors and state agencies understand more about these workers, as well as retain and grow their healthcare workforce.

The Learning Collaborative states (California, Colorado, Missouri, and Wyoming) participated in an intensive technical assistance period with NGA that included strategic planning and goal setting, as well as monthly check-ins with NGA staff. To support states through this process, NGA provided teams with research as requested so they could advance their work. These states also attended a webinar series with outside experts organized and hosted by NGA and other partners, and each state had access to a piloted NGA Healthcare Workforce Toolkit— including information on data and planning, licensing and regulation, training and recruitment, retention, and profession specific resources.

Due to the level of interest in this project, NGA also convened a Knowledge Exchange Network, allowing other states to benefit from the information gathered for the learning collaborative. This network included Alabama, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. While this group did not participate in strategic planning and goal setting with NGA, they were able to attend the webinar series, access NGA’s Healthcare Workforce Toolkit, and receive technical assistance to support their independent action planning.

Fall Healthcare Workforce Convening

The first phase of the project culminated in NGA convening 12 of the 16 participating states, including all four of the Learning Collaborative states, at a meeting in California in October 2022.

This meeting – and the programming support for the project – was generously funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HRSA provided both recorded remarks from a national perspective from Captain Sheila Pradia-Williams, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Bureau of Health Workforce, and in-person remarks from Captain Nidhi Jain, Regional Medical Consultant in HRSA’s regional office, to highlight the agency’s work to support states in their efforts to bolster the healthcare workforce. This convening was also supported by Western Governors University and American Institutes for Research.

Participants heard recorded remarks from Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the four Governors of the NGA Learning Collaborative states. Each Governor highlighted unique challenges in their respective states and talked about ways their administrations and state agencies are investing in the next generation of the healthcare workforce. 

The convening also featured in-depth reports on outcomes and accomplishments from NGA’s four Learning Collaborative States – California, Colorado, Missouri, and Wyoming. In addition to the state reports, NGA facilitated conversations on topics including rural health workforce, specialized care, industry collaboration, and initiative sustainability. These conversations featured presentations from Network states, national experts, and NGA partners. Participants also got a first look at NGA’s newly piloted Healthcare Workforce Toolkit, developed by NGA’s expert consultants at Veritas Health Solutions, who worked with NGA to develop resources based on state team input.

The first day featured two sessions where Learning Collaborative states reported on their progress. During a working lunch, participants heard from Ann Middleton, Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research, who spoke about advancing community-based approaches to recruiting and retaining healthcare workers through equitable engagement. Participants then engaged in a state-only conversation to discuss shared challenges and best practices. The day culminated in two working sessions featuring best-practices from states on rural health policy solutions and specialized care workforce solutions.

Day two began with a presentation from NGA’s expert consultants at Veritas Health Solutions, who presented a new limited access Healthcare Workforce Toolkit developed for Learning Collaborative and Network states. The presentation included space for state participants to provide feedback on the toolkit and identify additional resources that could be helpful in sustaining further healthcare workforce efforts for the coming year. Participants heard from experts from Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco on ways to collaborate with industry partners to support the mental health workforce. To close out the convening, participants engaged in a discussion on sustaining workforce initiatives and maintaining momentum for the next year. 

Each session featured moderators or speakers from the Learning Collaborative and Knowledge Exchange Network states to highlight innovation and inspire cross-state collaboration on healthcare workforce priorities. The meeting served as a unique opportunity to convene Governors’ advisors and cross-agency peers from multiple states across the country. States engaged in peer-to-peer learning and discussion that highlighted several focus areas for the next phase of work, including the importance of developing data collection and analysis tools, understanding the unique challenges faced by different professional types within the healthcare workforce, enhancing cross-agency collaboration, and continuing cross-state discussion at regional and national levels. After two full days of robust discussion, NGA was excited to announce the continuation of the project through 2023, creating additional space for this important discourse to continue.

Looking Ahead to 2023

Given the continued interest in this topic, NGA will continue to focus on healthcare workforce needs through 2023, absorbing the four Learning Collaborative states into the Knowledge Exchange Network, and inviting new states and territories to join the discussion. Programming will include peer-to-peer learning opportunities and discussions (such as webinars and focused workshops), along with technical assistance. If your state or territory is interested in joining the network, please reach out to Anna Heard ( for more information. Read more about the first phase of programming here.