history of human resources for health


Thomas C. Ricketts, III, PhD Learning Objectives




Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, the reader should be able to

• trace the history of human resources for health and workforce planning; • learn why and when workforce planning is undertaken; • briefly describe the five major methods used in workforce planning; • understand the key concepts of benchmarking, adjusted needs, and

demand as they apply to workforce planning; • develop a simple estimate of the future supply of a profession for a

population; and • interpret the results of workforce planning reports as they relate to

individual healthcare organizations and delivery systems.


Most of this book views human resources management (HRM) from the per- spective of the healthcare organization. Chapters focus on such topics as job design, recruitment and retention, and evaluation of individual performance. However, organizations are also affected by the larger external environment in which they are situated. In HRM, broad workforce policy and labor mar- ket factors, which are external aspects, affect an organization’s ability to attract and retain employees. An organization may have a theoretically sound recruit- ment program for nurses, but if sufficient numbers of nurses are not being trained in the national healthcare system, the program will likely prove unsuccessful.

This chapter’s focus is unique among the chapters in this book in that it addresses workforce planning for communities, regions, states, countries, and other jurisdictions. It devotes attention to the healthcare workforce needs throughout society rather than the needs of a particular organization.

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EBSCO Publishing : eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/1/2022 4:14 PM via WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY AN: 237620 ; Fottler, Myron D., Fried, Bruce.; Human Resources in Healthcare : Managing for Success Account: s8993066.main.ehost



Human resources for health (HRH) workforce planning deals with questions, including the following:

• How do we determine the number of surgeons needed in a particular geographic area?

• What factors help us to best anticipate future supply and need for various types of healthcare workers?

• What methods are used to project future workforce needs? What are the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, and how may they be most effectively applied?

This chapter, therefore, takes a macro-level perspective on the healthcare workforce and examines concepts and methodologies that are useful in pro- jecting workforce requirements for communities and larger regions. Much of the remainder of this book focuses on internal strategies for managing human resources, which we can view as micro-level approaches, and addresses work- force concerns from the perspective of a single organization.

Workforce planning is the assessment of needs for human resources. This process can be very formal and complex or depend on “back-of-the-envelope” estimates and can be applied to small organizations or practices as well as to national and international healthcare delivery systems. Workforce planning fits in with overall health systems planning and human resources development and management. One conceptualization sees workforce planning as one of three steps in workforce development (De Geyndt 2000):

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