The Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research & Policy at the Indiana University School of Medicine will Tuesday host its annual workforce summit. The event in downtown Indianapolis will bring together a diverse group of people to discuss complex issues surrounding healthcare workforce. Hannah Maxey, director of the Bowen Center, says discussions will focus on workforce supply and demand as well as various policy-related issues.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Maxey said she hopes attendees walk way with a sense that they aren’t on an island.

"Healthcare workforce policy will not be successful if we don’t bring multiple different types of players to the table," said Maxey. "We can’t just be on the academic side training physicians or nurses or dentists in a silo apart from what employers need and what our community healthcare needs are so my goal is that this group comes together and that they see the diverse perspectives that are going to be there and they realize that if they’re going to actually move the needle here in Indiana on key health issues and ensure that we can meet the workforce demands in the health sector, that we’re going to have to play in the sandbox with a lot of other people."

The summit will feature keynote addresses by Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Kristina Box and Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne. The theme for this year’s summit is "Workforce Alignment in the Health Sector."

"Health care is a complex, high stakes industry. Its workforce includes a diverse skill mix ranging from entry-level to high-skills occupations," said Maxey, "Although commonly linked to population health conversations, the health workforce is equally important to the economic health of Indiana communities. The Bowen Center is delighted to provide a platform for dialogue for all voices with a stake in health care."

Maxey says Indiana is doing very well when it comes to having data to drive decision-making when it comes to the supply of workers. However, she says the state has opportunities to better identify its areas of shortages or gaps and partnering with employers and educators in those communities to do targeted workforce development initiatives.

"One of the issues is in long-term care. With the certified nurse aids in Indiana, we have a high turnover rate. That’s an entry-level workforce, a very accessible occupation for individuals who want to gain entry into healthcare and yet, we see high turnover and unmet demand for individuals in that role across our state. I think looking into those issues and developing some very strategic solutions that include engagements of multiple players, that’s one area that comes to mind."

Maxey adds the state is making good progress in addressing the nursing shortage, citing Purdue University which recently graduated double the number of nursing students it had the previous year.