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Recruiting and Training a Health Professions Workforce to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow’s Health Care System

Raffoul, Melanie, MD; Bartlett-Esquilant, Gillian, PhD; Phillips, Robert L. Jr, MD, MSPH

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002606

The quality of any health care system depends on the caliber, enthusiasm, and diversity of the workforce. Yet, workforce research often focuses on the number and type of health professionals needed and anticipated shortages compared with anticipated needs. These projections do not address whether the workforce will have the requisite social, intellectual, cultural, and emotional capital needed to deliver care in an increasingly complex health care system.

Building a workforce that can deliver care in such a system begins by recruiting individuals with the requisite knowledge, skills, and attributes. To address this and other workforce needs, the authors argue that health professions education programs must make purposeful changes to their admissions criteria, such as focusing on emotional intelligence and diversity and recruiting students from the communities where they will return to work; partner with communities; ensure that accreditation systems support these goals of fostering diversity; recruit students who can bridge the gap between public health and health care; and invest in health professions education research.

In this article, they contemplate how health professions education programs can recruit and educate talented health professionals to create a high-performing workforce that is capable of serving in the complex health care system of tomorrow. They provide examples of successful programs to highlight the potential effects of their recommendations.

M. Raffoul is assistant professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, and assistant medical director, Tisch Observation/Short Stay Unit, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York.

G. Bartlett-Esquilant is professor, associate chair, and research and graduate program director, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

R.L. Phillips Jr is executive director, Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care, American Board of Family Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky, and professor, Department of Family Medicine, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Melanie Raffoul, Bellevue Hospital, 462 First Ave., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10016; e-mail:

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges