Why the Indian Health Care Improvement Act has Failed to Effectively Fund Workforce Development for the Indian Health Service

Michael A Sundberg, Loretta Christensen, Allison Kelliher, Matthew Tobey, Michael Toedt, Mary Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Indian Health Service (IHS) faces severe workforce shortages due to underfunding and underdevelopment of clinical training programs. Unlike other direct federal health care systems that have implemented clinical training paradigms as central parts of their success, the IHS has no formalized process for developing such programs internally or in partnership with academic institutions. While the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) authorizes mechanisms by which the IHS can support overall workforce development, a critical portion of the act (U.S. Code 1616p) intended for developing clinical training programs within the agency remains unfunded. Here, we review the funding challenges of the IHCIA, as well as its authorized and funded workforce development programs that have only partially addressed workforce shortages. We propose that through additional funding to 1616p, the IHS could implement clinical training programs needed to prepare a larger workforce more capable of meeting the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native communities.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
StatePublished - 2024

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