Grant aims to curtail nursing, doctor shortage

The Colorado Rural Health Center received a $205,000 grant to develop policy solutions to address the problem of gaining access to medical care in rural areas of the state.

The money comes from The Colorado Trust to the organization, which will lead a 30-member collaborative of universities, state health and labor agencies and other health care providers.

“While the current and worsening shortage of health care professionals has been understood for some time, what’s new and much needed is the resolve of a broad group to proactively work together to address this complex issue,” said Irene M. Ibarra, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust. “With the dedicated leadership of the Colorado Rural Health Center, the collaborative is positioned to expand and sustain its ability to develop policy recommendations to fill the gaps and strengthen the state’s health care workforce.”

In Colorado, there is an 11 percent shortage of nurses statewide, and it’s expected that this shortage will triple by 2020. As well, the number of health care jobs in Colorado is expected to grow by 20 percent during the next 10 years, even as the number of health care workers is expected to shrink by 17 percent as aging workers retire. This shortage extends across many health care professions, including physicians, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, dental hygienists, physician assistants and physical therapists.