Completed Projects

Selected completed projects include:

Study of the North Carolina Optometrist Workforce (2014-2015)

The budget passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in August 2014 (N.C.S.L. 2014-100, Section 11.21(a)) included language directing the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina (UNC) to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a school of optometry in the state. Eight UNC institutions were named in the legislation as potential locations for the new school.

In September 2014, the UNC General Administration asked the Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy at The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research to conduct a study of North Carolina’s optometrist workforce. The purpose of the study was to describe the supply, distribution, and employment patterns of optometrists in North Carolina, their demographic characteristics, and the education and training of the national and NC optometrist workforce. The study found that the state’s optometrist workforce is well-distributed by age, with a relatively small proportion of optometrists nearing retirement age and a steady stream of younger optometrists continuing to enter the workforce. Based on the data and information presented in the study, the Board of Governors, in November 2014, recommended not developing a new school

Link to Product:


Study of the North Carolina Pharmacist Workforce (2013-2014)

The Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy was funded by the University of North Carolina General Administration to conduct a study on North Carolina’s pharmacist workforce. The main source of data for the study was the NC Health Professions Data System, although various other data sources were used. Study results indicated that North Carolina has a strong supply of pharmacists to meet the demand for pharmaceutical services in the state. A relatively low percentage of pharmacists are near retirement age, the pipeline for new pharmacists is strong, and competition for jobs is high. New and emerging roles for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in North Carolina may emerge in the future in response to new models of healthcare delivery.

Link to Product:


Research Review for the ABMS Evidence Library (2013)

The American Board of Medical Specialties Research and Education Foundation (ABMS REF) has compiled an ABMS Evidence Library. The Evidence Library is an online database that systematically presents empirical evidence gathered from peer-reviewed research studies and articles that supports the value of Board Certification and Maintenance of Certification (MOC). The ABMS REF had a backlog of approximately 300 articles to input into the Evidence Library. From September-December 2013, we assisted the ABMS REF in reviewing and annotating approximately 150 prioritized articles, and submitting them for final review to ABMS REF staff for inclusion in the Evidence Library.

You may access the ABMS Evidence Library at


American College of Surgeons (ACS) Health Policy Research Institute (HPRI) (2008-2013)

For several years, the Sheps Center has partnered with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to study and report on issues related to the state of the surgical profession, the surgical workforce, and surgical utilization in the United States. From 2008-2013, this work was housed within the ACS Health Policy Research Institute (HPRI), which was located at the Sheps Center until a new ACS facility was constructed in Washington, DC.

For more information on previous work done through the ACS HPRI, see

HPRI dissolved in 2012, but surgical workforce studies will continue to be done under the umbrella of the Program on Health Workforce Research & Policy, and Program staff will continue to provide data support as needed. Current and future work will be housed under the Surgical Workforce Research and Policy Studies Project.


HRSA State Health Workforce Planning Grant (2010-2012)

In September 2010, North Carolina was awarded one of 24 state health workforce planning grants from HRSA. The grant was awarded to the NC Department of Commerce, Division of Workforce Development on behalf of the Sheps Center. In this project, we

  1. Assessed the range, number and activities of professionals needed to staff the full scope of services coordinated by patient centered medical homes (PCMHs);
  1. Drew together actionable information on the State’s current workforce size, adequacy, growth trends and future needs for health professionals serving on the patient centered medical home team;
  1. Assessed the adequacy of the number of extant training positions, as well as the workforce development needs of the workforce already practicing in PCMHs;
  1. Identified which health care services, such as patient education and case management, might be undertaken by disciplines with various skill mixes; and
  1. Assessed the potential for new roles—such as the community health worker—that would enhance the functioning of the patient centered medical home in NC.

A Workforce Intermediary Committee (WIC) was developed to inform the work of the planning grant. Members include AHEC, Foundation for Nursing Excellence, NC Academy of Family Physicians, NC Office of Rural Health & Community Care, NC Medical Society Foundation, NC Community College System, UNC General Administration, NC Institute of Medicine, NC Hospital Association, and the NC Community Health Centers Association.

Link to products: