About Us

The Program on Health Workforce Research, located at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serves as an umbrella for projects that build the science behind the research of health workforce analysis in an effort to inform policy at the local, regional, state, national and international levels.


Our mission is to provide policy makers with evidence-based workforce research and data to ensure the right workforce is in place to meet the demands of the health care system. We build the science of workforce policy by:

  • Grounding it in rigorous data, research and modeling techniques,
  • Infusing it with interdisciplinary theory and methods,
  • Conducting interprofessional workforce studies and
  • Broadly disseminating, and applying, research to “real world” decisions affecting clinicians, employers, patients and public.


Type of Organization | Sample StakeholdersData Uses
Government
General Assembly; US DHHS; Office of Rural Health; State Center for Health Stats; Department of Commerce; County Health Depts.
Policy Decisions, Allocate funding, Program planning, Evaluation, HPSA analysis, Grant proposals
Workforce Policy
NC AHEC; NC Institute of Medicine; Council for Allied Health in NC
Evaluation; program planning; policy analysis; regulatory
questions; grant proposals; pipeline and diversity
Education, Research
UNC General Administration; NC Community College System; Private Colleges and Universities; Individual Researchers
Planning for new schools; planning for new programs; pipeline and diversity; evaluation; research projects; grant proposals
Regulatory Bodies
NC Licensing Boards; NCSBN; FSMB
Improve data quality/quantity; regulatory decisions; understand licensee characteristics
Employers, Health Systems
UNC Healthcare; Piedmont Alliance for Triad Healthcare; Cone Health
Workforce planning; diversity initiatives; planning for service areas
Funders
Duke Endowment; Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust; NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund; RWJF; Physicians Foundation
Program planning; resource allocation; evaluation
National Organizations
HRSA; IOM; AMA; AAMC;ACS
National policy; evaluation; dissemination; improve data quality
Professional Associations
NC Academy of Family Physicians; NC Medical Society; NCHA
Advocacy/membership; policy analysis; program planning; grant proposals
Other
Media; students; health professionals; individuals; continuing education
News stories; class projects; locational
analysis; loan repayment; CME seminars


Erin Fraher, PhD, MPP
Program Director

Dr. Erin Fraher has worked as a policy analyst and health workforce researcher in the United States,… Read more »

Julie Spero
Julie Spero, MSPH
Research Associate

Ms. Spero is the Director of the North Carolina Health Professions Data System and a Research Associ… Read more »

Thomas C. Ricketts, PhD, MPH
Deputy Director

THOMAS C. RICKETTS, III, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Professor of Health Policy and Management and Social Medi… Read more »

Tom Bacon, DrPH
Senior Research Fellow

Tom Bacon, DrPH, is chair of the Board of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.  For the past se… Read more »

Sue Isley
Business Services Coordinator

Sue Isley is a part-time Business Services Coordinator with the Program on Health Workforce Research… Read more »

Evan Galloway, MPS
Data Visualization Analyst

Mr. Galloway is a Research Associate with the Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy at the… Read more »

Heather Wilson
Research Assistant

Research Assistant & Communications Specialist, Heather Wilson Heather Wilson is a Research Assi… Read more »

Photo of Shikira Thomas, MSPH
Shikira Thomas, MSPH
Research Associate

Shikira Thomas, MPSH Shikira Thomas is a Research Associate-Project Manager for the Health Workforce… Read more »


1974

NC CooperativeIn 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.

1981

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.

1999

Erin Fraher, PhD was hired as the new Director of the HPDS and the rest is history.

2003

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.

2008

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.

2010

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.

2013

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.