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Senators, KUMC work to help address health care workforce shortages

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Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 1:44 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - University of Kansas Medical Center partners in Topeka, Lawrence and other Kansas cities will develop strategies to address health care workforce shortages throughout Kansas that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

U.S. Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) say the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded over $270,000 to the University of Kansas Medical Center to give students learning experiences that will grow their interest and education about the health sciences, which they believe will build a robust healthcare workforce.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many existing vulnerabilities within the health care industry and exacerbated shortages within our workforce,” said Sen. Marshall. “As a physician who served rural and underserved communities, I saw workforce shortages in Kansas firsthand. We need to build tomorrow’s health care heroes today. Health and biomedical sciences can offer incredibly rewarding careers, but entering into those fields can be intimidating. KUMC’s partnership will bring experiences and a more engaging approach that will encourage students to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in health care.”

“Training and recruiting the next generation of health care workers is essential to providing Kansans access to high-quality care in every corner of the state,” said Sen. Moran. “Partnering with local educational programs will help recruit students to be future health care professionals while developing their appreciation for the communities where they receive their education. This grant will allow KUMC to further invest in providing adequate care for their patients while encouraging them to stay and serve in Kansas.”

According to the Senators, the project is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and will establish a collaborative community committed to bringing relevant community-based health issues into the classroom. Specifically, they said KUMC will establish a Teachers and Students for Community-Oriented Research and Education: Linking Industry, Faculty, and Teachers (TSCORE LIFT) program.

The Senators said the program builds on existing projects to create a community in five Kansas health systems, five universities and five school districts to develop and test a series of three educational interventions in the Kansas Health and Biosciences Career Pathway.

According to Sens. Moran and Marshall, the project leaders will empower 25 teachers to create educational content and provide experience in the healthcare industry for about 1,400 Kansas students. Locations will include Hays, Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence and Kansas City.

A recent report by the Kansas Hospital Association shows various staffing challenges and a shortage of skilled healthcare workers throughout the Sunflower State. It said challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic including turnover, vacancy and retention, add to the challenges.

Sens. Moran and Marshall said the project is meant to develop retention strategies throughout Kansas to maintain and increase the number of underrepresented and minority students that pursue careers in health sciences. In total, they said KUMC received $271,155 for the current budget period. This is the second award the team has been given to serve teachers and students in Kansas.

The Senators said funding for the award was made possible by the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

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