Establishing the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority
The Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA) was established by the General Assembly to identify and address health workforce issues in the Commonwealth. The VHWDA accomplishes this by addressing nine core functions as stated in the Code of Virginia. The VHWDA assesses health workforce needs in Virginia; sets priorities for the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program; informs health care workforce policy; promotes strategies for health workforce pipeline development; supports collaborations between communities, businesses, and social organizations to facilitate recruitment and retention efforts; advocates reducing the student debt load of health professionals; identifies High Priority Target Areas (HPTAs) within each region of the Commonwealth; and aims to create innovative health workforce development models.
The mission of the VHWDA is to facilitate the development of a statewide health professions pipeline that identifies, educates, recruits, and retains a diverse, appropriately geographically distributed and culturally competent quality workforce. The mission of the Authority is accomplished by:
- providing the statewide infrastructure required for health workforce needs assessment and planning that maintains engagement by health professions training programs in decision making and program implementation;
- serving as the advisory board and setting priorities for the Virginia Area Health Education Centers Program;
- coordinating with and serving as a resource to relevant state, regional, and local entities including the Department of Health Professions Workforce Data Center, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the Joint Commission on Health Care, the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, or any similar regional health authority that may be developed;
- informing state and local policy development as it pertains to health care delivery, training, and education;
- identifying and promoting evidence-based strategies for health workforce pipeline development and interdisciplinary health care service models, particularly those affecting rural and other underserved areas;
- supporting communities in their health workforce recruitment and retention efforts and developing partnerships and promoting models of participatory engagement with business and community-based and social organizations to foster integration of health care training and education;
- advocating for programs that will result in reducing the debt load of newly trained health professionals;
- identifying high priority target areas within each region of the Commonwealth and working toward health workforce development initiatives that improve health measurably in those areas;
- fostering or creating innovative health workforce development models that provide both health and economic benefits to the regions they serve.
- Developing strategies to increase diversity in the health workforce by examining demographic data on race and ethnicity in training programs and health professional licensure;
- Identifying ways to leverage technology to increase access to health workforce training and health care delivery; and,
- Developing a centralized health care careers roadmap in partnership with the Department of Health Professions that includes information on both licensed and unlicensed professions and that is disseminated to the Commonwealth's health care workforce stakeholders to raise awareness about available career pathways.
Funding for VHWDA
The Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority facilitates the development of a competent, quality health workforce that meets the primary health care needs of all Virginians. On September 30, 2010, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on behalf of the VHWDA, was awarded a federal grant of $1.93 million under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Affordable Care Act State Health Care Workforce Development Implementation Grants (#T55HP20285), to establish the entity. This was the only grant of its type awarded in the country. Of the $1.935,137.00 total award, $1,000,000.00 was allocated for community-based projects. The HRSA-funded Model State Supported AHEC (Grant #U77HP03047) provided 9% ($182,336.00) of support for this.