Alaska Health Workforce Vacancy Study (2007)

Beth Landon, MBA, MHA
Ira Stollak, MA, MPH
Sanna Doucette, BA
Janice Troyer, BS
Lori Ehrhart, BAA

This research project, conducted January – June 2007 by ACRH staff was funded by the Office of the Associate VP for Health, Karen Perdue, and by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. It sought to answer the following questions:

  • What health occupations are most critically affected by shortages in Alaska?
  • How many budgeted positions exist throughout the state, and how many of these positions are currently vacant?
  • How long have these vacancies remained unfilled?
  • Where are these vacancies regionally and in what types of organizations?
  • What did employers perceive to be the major underlying causes of their vacancies?
  • How many new trainees/graduates could the job market actually absorb annually and how many organizations could absorb them?

Four hundred seventy six (476) purposively sampled Alaska healthcare organizations of all types, representing 18,158 healthcare positions, responded to the study survey, the most extensive of its type done to date in Alaska. The survey data was used to generate estimates with confidence intervals of numbers of positions and vacancies, mean vacancy lengths, and numbers of vacancies appropriate for new trainees/graduates for the entire state of Alaska. The findings quantified critical shortages in a wide range of health occupations, particularly high-level primary care occupations including family physician, nursing specialties, physician assistant, pharmacist, dentist, and rehabilitation therapists. Vacancies were also analyzed by geographic region and by healthcare organization type.