Home Virginia community colleges, industries partner to increase healthcare workforce
Health, Schools, Virginia

Virginia community colleges, industries partner to increase healthcare workforce

Rebecca Barnabi
(© DragonImages – stock.adobe.com)

The Virginia Community College System is partnering with private and public stakeholders across the state to address a healthcare workforce shortage.

VCCS Chancellor Dr. David Doré met with healthcare leaders from around the Commonwealth yesterday for the first VCCS Healthcare Summit, during which solutions to help students succeed in pursuing healthcare careers and close the skills gap were explored.

In 2022, 6,400 students earned healthcare degrees and credentials from community colleges in the Commonwealth. However, the need for skilled healthcare workers is estimated to be 18 times that number of students. Narrowing the gap will require the system to scale-up programs, expand existing lab space, and hire new instructors, necessary investments that require deeper partnerships, collaboration and conversation between the system and industry.

“This is why we are coming to you today,” Doré told participants in his opening remarks. “We can’t do this alone.” He challenged everyone to go beyond discussing challenges in the healthcare industry and collaborate on three specific action steps that the nine GO Virginia regions can pursue with the community college system to enact workforce change.

Additional industry sector summits will be held across the Commonwealth in the coming months to strengthen partnerships.

VCCS is the only provider of workforce and education solutions with true statewide scope, uniquely attuned to both the broad needs of the Commonwealth and the nuanced needs of its communities. Therefore, VCCS is leading the charge in growing Virginia’s healthcare sector.

Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel said the shortage of skilled healthcare professionals poses a significant challenge to the state’s healthcare system, impacting its ability to deliver quality care and meet the growing needs of Virginia communities.

“Virginia needs the combined strength of our community college and industry leaders, collaborating in ways we have yet to explore if we want to have the impact I know we can have,” Littel said.

Sheryl Garland is chief of Health Impact at VCU Health System. She said that finding solutions to the complex workforce problems Virginia faces today will require an unprecedented level of teamwork.

“Sharing information is essential for our success,” Garland said. “Having access to a broad spectrum of data will help all of us more precisely understand the dynamics of the healthcare workforce, and in the process, develop solutions that are tailored to the needs of our industry in Virginia.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.