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Health Workforce

What is the Health Workforce Special Interest Group?


The health workforce is essential to the delivery of services in every health care system, and includes all occupations including nurses, physicians, clinical officers, health care managers, home care aides, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, and others. There is a wide range of economic issues of interest regarding the health workforce, including human capital formation, occupation and specialty choice, pay and wage setting, competition in health labor markets, workforce shortages, geographic distribution, international migration, career transitions, and the relationship between the health workforce and quality of care. 

Challenges related to the health workforce span every country. The most prominent concerns are related to shortages and geographic maldistribution of health workers.  These issues connect to the economics of employment choice, human capital formation, and competition in labor markets. The World Health Organization and World Bank have an active interest in this area, and the journal Human Resources for Health is published in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The World Health Organization has sponsored programs to educate health workforce planners in the basic economics of labor supply and demand. These activities demonstrate the worldwide interest and need for greater research and evaluation of health care labor market dynamics, policies, and programs. 

HWSIG Objectives

The Health Workforce SIG will bring together researchers interested in the health workforce to:

  1. Share their work and identify cross-national common issues
  2. Identify new areas for research to both answer foundational questions and evaluate programs and policies
  3. Establish collaborations for grant applications
  4. Provide mentorship to students and early-stage scholars in the field


HWSIG Conveners

The following conveners help guide activities:

Joanne Spetz, Professor, University of California, San Francisco, United States
Michelle McIsaac, Economist, World Health Organization
Biana Frogner, Associate Professor, University of Washington, United States
Ulrike Muench, Assistant Professor, University of California, San Francisco, United States
Michael Simon, Assistance Professor, Institute of Nursing Science, University of Basel, Switzerland
Ian W. Li, Senior Lecturer, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia
Diane Skatun, University of Aberdeen


Joining the HWSIG


Membership is open to iHEA members who are working and/or studying in the field.

Membership can be requested by logging in to the iHEA website, selecting the "groups" section and clicking "request to join" by the SIG name. Membership is approved by the convener(s) of the SIG.

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The International Health Economics Association was formed to increase communication among health economists, foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems, and assist young researchers at the start of their careers.

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