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Southeastern NC Health Care Employers Come Together to Solve Talent Crisis

| Education & Workforce Development

Involved employers represent 80% of the region’s health care workers

Steven Hill, pictured at the podium, talks about the Southeastern area’s health talent crisis with some of the industry’s top employers

According to the N.C. Institute of Medicine, “even before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our state was facing a workforce shortage in our ‘workforce for health’ – the team of clinicians and support staff that coordinate daily to provide preventive care, health education, diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care.”

“In our region it really was the perfect storm,” said Dr. Steven Hill, Regional VP for Talent Pipeline Development representing the NC Health Talent Alliance’s Southeast region, which covers the Wilmington area. “We were already a retirement destination before COVID. But since then, people began moving here in record numbers, many of which were retirement age. You then combine that with a mass exodus of health care professionals experiencing burnout and retiring themselves—our need for health talent just compounded.”

He also said that medical assistant and CNA positions are some of the highest in-need positions in his region alongside the commonly known LPN and RN shortages.

The NC Health Talent Alliance, an initiative of the NC Chamber Foundation and the NC Center on the Workforce for Health, is expanding and establishing roots in our communities to solve these critical health care talent shortages throughout our state.

The NC Chamber Foundation and the NC Center on the Workforce for Health are engaging local leaders and state-level stakeholders to support and launch phase-one implementation efforts. Phase one requires continued coalition building, training practitioners and supporters in the framework, fundraising, and forming and launching local partnerships to begin implementing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM®) approach.

Spearheading this work in North Carolina’s Southeastern region are the Wilmington Chamber and the South East Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC), which are teaming together to engage their employer health care community and lead on solutions to address this critical need for the region.

A critical component of this infrastructure is the Regional Talent Pipeline Administrators, like Dr. Hill, who are building these critical relationships with employers in their regions—acting as the glue between the education and business community. The NC Chamber Foundation underwrites the training for these regional positions.

Each geographic region across the state has specific and unique challenges that they are looking to address.

The Wilmington region was the first NC Health Talent Alliance pilot program launched and by the end of the year, at least four regions will be serving 38 counties across the state to work on this critical need in our communities.

Dr. Hill explained that the region has already engaged 44 employers in the Talent Alliance, and that they are closing in on 84% of the region’s health care employer base. Following a 32-year career in education, which culminated as Superintendent of Pender County Schools, and several prominent positions in the business community, Dr. Hill has seen what works and does not on both sides of the equation. He explained that the current process, “puts too much onus on the person who knows the least,” meaning the student or the professional.

Employers who have responded to the collaborative’s initial outreach efforts include Wilmington Health, Novant Health, Coastal Horizons, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, Liberty Health and many others.

“This collaborative is a tool to help us reverse engineer the positions we need for these health care employers,” he said. “These companies, the end users or clients, are all competing for the same talent, but they are working toward a common goal, and you get to see with TPM® that that’s where the power is. By collaborating you increase your power to add value to the credentialing process and better clarify the pathways to enter health care. Additionally, the Health Care Collaborative will more empower regional employers within upskilling programs, for current employees, as well as lobby for additional support at the state level.

All nine North Carolina geographic regions will work directly with employers, training providers, and other community partners to create stronger talent development paths for critical positions. In the coming year, the group plans to expand to all 100 counties. And all the regional TPM® representatives are working in sync with one another toward a common goal.

“There’s no easy answer to solving our state’s health talent crisis—it’s complex,” said Dr. Hill. “But we’re on the right path with this. And my region’s efforts are an important ingredient to that statewide success.”

Learn more here about how the partnership is working to close the health care talent gap in all North Carolina regions.