Alaska Physician Workforce Study (2000)
Denny DeGross, MA
Denny DeGross, MA Kate Heitkamp, BS Over 20,000 people work in Alaska’s health care industry, making it one of the state’s biggest employers. Even so, researchers, governmental agencies, and professional organizations have relatively little data about the demographic and practical aspects of these health professionals’ work lives in Alaska. Much of the detailed information that is collected in this area is located in burdensome formats, and is almost impossible to access. Attempts to improve data quality and retrieval methodologies have been sporadic, creating a collection of uncoordinated, incompatible, short-term and regionally focused studies of health professions and employment. Annual and ongoing practice information has never been available in Alaska.
The data gathered from the Alaska Physician Workforce Study can serve a variety of purposes for a large number of groups. The data can be used for planning the direction of health professions training within the University system, and to help develop graduates that meet the actual needs of the state. Data can be used for applications on the state’s behalf for additional Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSA) designations. HPSA designations benefit rural Alaskans by providing incentives for physicians to practice in under-served areas. Thirdly, data can provide information on the distribution of health professionals for addressing issues surrounding the accessibility of health services. Finally, survey data will provide more detailed information for professional organizations interested in learning more about their membership. The survey will furnish a better understanding of practice conditions in the field and how professional organizations can better serve their constituency.