America’s health care workers are the backbone of hospitals and health systems and our most precious resource. Without a strong and resilient workforce, our system of patient care collapses. It is as simple as that.

The challenges of stress, trauma, and burnout among our caregivers were well documented before the past two and half years of COVID-19, but the long pandemic has intensified these issues to historic levels and tested the resilience of our health care workforce as never before.

Add to the mix workforce shortages combined with an aging population, a rise in chronic diseases and increased prevalence of behavioral health conditions . . . and it’s clear why hospital leaders nationwide consider workforce their top issue.

The fact is the state of our health care workforce is a national emergency that demands immediate attention from health care leaders and policymakers at every level of government as well as other stakeholders from academic institutions to community leaders.

In response, earlier this year we formed the AHA Board of Trustees’ Task Force on Workforce, a key part of our ongoing efforts to sound the alarm about this national emergency and take steps to address it. The task force has worked to identify ideas, policies and solutions to support our current workforce and assure that we have enough health care workers to meet the future needs of our nation.

We were pleased to launch this week a key result of its work: Strengthening the Health Care Workforce, the first part of a new resource offering strategies and considerations to help hospital and health system leaders navigate the complex challenges we are facing today and those that lie ahead.

The first section of the guide puts the spotlight on addressing well-being, supporting behavioral health and workplace violence prevention.

In the next few months, we will add sections on data and technology; recruitment and retention strategies; diversity, equity and inclusion; and creative staffing models.

Strengthening the Health Care Workforce includes strategies and case studies from hospitals across the country and we thank the Board of Trustees’ Task Force and its chair, Ron Werft, president and CEO of Cottage Health, for their leadership on this pivotal effort.

As Ron says, “There is no higher priority than ensuring that we care for the caregiver, that we make our working environment safe and that we foster the ability for individuals to have joy in their work.”

The AHA is fully committed to supporting this very important work as we strive to create a just society of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health.

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