The Bulletin Board

Center awarded grant to grow health care workforce, boost cultural competency

By: - December 16, 2021 3:22 pm
An empty hospital hallway

The federal money is meant to address both health care workforce shortages and disparities among populations at high risk for COVID-19. (Getty Images)

The Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center has been awarded a $528,000 grant to grow the health care workforce and provide trainings on cultural competency.

The center, a department of Lamprey Health Care, is the only program in the state to promote health care careers “with an emphasis on minority, disadvantaged populations, and rural communities,” according to the state’s request for a contract. No other organization offers the same kind of diversity trainings – the state’s rationale for skipping a competitive bid process for the contract.

The federal money is meant to address both health care workforce shortages and disparities among populations at high risk for COVID-19. Program director Paula Smith said those two efforts are connected, and that as New Hampshire has become more racially diverse, the program is interested in promoting a diverse workforce of health care providers. That in turn can help provide better outcomes to New Hampshire’s diverse populations, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 

The “culturally effective organization” training focuses on seven elements: leadership, policies and procedures, data collection and analysis, staff cultural competency, community engagement, workforce diversity, and language access. Smith said these elements make up a framework to prompt organizations to think about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We all can be better on our journey to be more personally culturally competent, but sometimes we’re thwarted by the organizations we work for,” she said. 

The grant was awarded for 2022 and 2023. In that time, the program is tasked with analyzing barriers limiting the regional health care workforce and training 700 certified nursing assistants to work in the state, as well as hosting a “culturally effective organization” learning forum and training eight to 10 state organizations. 

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.