In 1974 the Cecil G. Sheps Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began compiling a statewide database on physicians practicing in North Carolina. Eventually, using federal and AHEC funding, the scope was expanded to include other professions and was named The North Carolina Cooperative Health Information System. Along with support from other sources, currently, the North Carolina AHEC Program provides the core funding for the HPDS. The HPDS is seen as the source of official data on licensed health professions in NC and is often considered a gold standard among states collecting health workforce data.
Federal funding ended in 1981 and new streams of state funding were developed to support the continuation of the newly renamed North Carolina Health Professions Data System (HPDS). After receiving short term funding from The Duke Endowment and the North Carolina Hospital Association, sustainable core funding was secured by the North Carolina AHEC Program and UNC General Administration.
In 2003, the Sheps Center was named as one of six regional health workforce centers through a cooperative agreement with the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Its charge was to conduct research and analysis with the goal of improving access to an appropriate and effective health workforce in the Southeast and North Carolina.
The American College of Surgeons Health Policy Research Institute (ACS HPRI) was housed at the Sheps Center from 2008 to 2013 to study and report on issues related to the state of the surgical profession, the surgical workforce, and surgical utilization in the United States. The Institute provided expert advice, data analysis, and original research for surgical professional associations and boards, policymakers, and the health services research community.
From 2010-2012, The Sheps Center led work, in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Commerce, on a state health workforce planning grant awarded through HRSA. Working closely with the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM), we developed and recommended strategies for increasing the supply of health professionals. We also began our work on determining staff configurations in Patient-Centered Medical Homes, the roles needed in a transformed health system, and what it takes to fill those roles.
In 2013, the Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy (PHWRP) was named as one of three new Health Workforce Research Centers (HWRC) through a cooperative agreement with the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis at HRSA. The Carolina Health Workforce Research Center’s focus is on the flexible use of healthcare workers and conducts a number of research projects each year. Through the same cooperative agreement program, the Health Workforce Technical Assistance Center (HWTAC), a collaboration between the New York Center for Health Workforce Studies and the Sheps Center. Through the HWTAC, we provide assistance to entities who wish to develop state health workforce data systems and use data to better inform health workforce planning efforts.