Montana State program focuses on health workforce

Montana State University is the new home of a center focused on health workforce issues.

The MSU Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies was approved in March by the Montana Board of Regents. Its purpose is to generate research and information regarding key trends in nursing and other health workforces, to analyze that information and to share it with stakeholders. The center’s ultimate mission is to improve the performance of the national health care delivery system.

The center was originally housed at Vanderbilt University but moved to MSU after its director, Peter Buerhaus, took a position in the MSU College of Nursing. The center, which is now housed in the MSU College of Nursing, is funded entirely by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Buerhaus said the center addresses an issue of vast importance to the economy of Montana and to its people.

“Health care is one of the fastest growing industries, and it’s going to hire significant numbers of people at (relatively high) incomes,” he said. “From an employment perspective, health care is important, and it’s also important from a public health perspective.”

Buerhaus noted the center has a national focus, but at the same time it’s also concerned with rural issues.

“The center contributes momentum to what appears to be a growing focus among the state, the university system and the private sector regarding improving health care in rural Montana,” he said.

“The College of Nursing is delighted to have the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies and Dr. Buerhaus here at Montana State,” Helen Melland, dean of the college, said. “An understanding of workforce needs is important to the College of Nursing as we prepare future nurses. The research performed by Dr. Buerhaus and others in the center can help us better understand healthcare. Ultimately, it will benefit patients and care providers.”

An internationally renowned nurse economist, Buerhaus’ research includes forecasting nurse and physician supply, developing and testing measures of the quality of care in hospitals, determining public and provider opinions on issues involving the delivery of health care, and assessing the quantity and quality of health care provided by nurse practitioners.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is a private organization based in the San Francisco Bay area that works to achieve significant, lasting and measurable outcomes in the areas of scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the character of the San Francisco Bay area. 

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