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The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices is working with States in a new learning collaborative on strategies to grow and retain the next generation of the healthcare workforce.


Concerns about healthcare workforce supply and preparing the next generation of the healthcare workforce have been building for several years for a variety of reasons. The retirement and aging of an entire generation is front and center of the healthcare workforce shortage, particularly impacting rural communities. Like in other sectors, the healthcare workforce is rapidly aging: over a quarter of all physicians are over 60 years old, the average age of a nurse is over 50, and the average age of the mental/behavioral health workforce is over 50 years old. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues to an extreme, and accelerated flight from the healthcare delivery field dramatically. Nearly 20% of the healthcare workforce have left positions since the beginning of the pandemic, with an additional 20% contemplating leaving positions as of February 2020. This confluence of circumstances lays bare the need to examine the options Governors’ offices have available to strengthen and grow the healthcare workforce.  

In response to this alarming scenario, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has launched a learning collaborative to support Governors’ offices and other senior state officials in implementing strategies to strengthen and grow the next generation of the healthcare workforce. An NGA learning collaborative is a six to nine month learning opportunity for states to assess their current operating environment, share successes and best practices, learn from national, state, and local experts, exchange ideas with other states, and develop and execute an action plan to achieve program and policy change based on state-identified goals. By learning directly from other states and national experts, participating states will gain an understanding of innovative and evidence-based policies, programs, and practices to create a positive environment for an enduring healthcare workforce.  

Other interested states will be participating in the Next Gen Knowledge Exchange Network with the Learning Collaborative states. States in this group will be able to attend the project kick-off meeting, access our healthcare workforce toolkit, convene 1-2 times during the project with the full network group to share best practices, receive invitations to any project webinars, and have the opportunity to contribute their state’s best practices to the final project report.


Learning Collaborative Timeline 

Tuesday, February 8 , 2022  Proposal Period Opens   
Monday, February 14   Applicant Informational Session (Attendance optional) 
Monday, February 28   Applications Due  
By Thursday, March 10   State Selection Announced   
Mid-April Pre-Work Due  
Wednesday, April 27 – Thursday, April 28   Kick-Off Meeting (two half days)  
April – September 2022     In-State Site Visits (can be virtual), Ongoing Technical Assistance   
September-October 2022    Learning Collaborative Wrap-Up Meeting (In-Person or Virtual, TBD)  
October 2022   Publication on Outcomes of Learning Collaborative  

Potential Learning Collaborative Outcomes 

  • Assembling or reengaging existing healthcare workforce bodies to provide recommendations and reports on healthcare workforce supply and quality 
  • Creating an implementation guide to improve healthcare workforce wellbeing
  • Forming the regulatory, legislative, or executive language needed to enhance the career growth pipeline of entry-level healthcare workers
  • Organizing a pathway to share relevant data between key departments to monitor healthcare supply and demand
  • Other activities that support the growth and retention of the healthcare workforce 

For additional information about this learning collaborative, please reach out to:


This work is funded by generous support and partnership from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). 

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