My GrantWatch column in the recently released January 2013 issue of Health Affairs focuses on the workforce and foundations’ efforts to strengthen it. The column provides a snapshot of what foundations around the United States are funding.

A variety of funders are interested in health professions workforce topics. In my small sampling, it appears that interprofessional education and training is becoming a popular funding area. In interprofessional education, students from more than one health profession learn together.

I mention two projects focusing on shortages of certain types of health professionals. Foundations have also funded research to see if there will even be a shortage of primary care professionals—whether or not a shortage will occur, especially as federal health reform rolls out, can be a controversial topic.

Graduate medical education is the focus of an Institute of Medicine study funded by several foundations, including the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and others.

In my research for the column I came across a funder that I was not familiar with: the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations. It awarded an interesting grant to the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding to improve care for people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

Some foundations are interested in helping the nursing profession. Read in the column about some efforts by the RWJF, a major player in this area, and an evaluation of a John A. Hartford Foundation geriatric nursing initiative.

And I do not just focus on doctors and nurses. Read about a generous grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies. This grant to PHI focuses on the direct care workforce, which includes personal care aides, nurse assistants, and home care aides. I also mention a Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco, project to train medical assistants. The Hitachi Foundation is the funder. In case you didn’t know, medical assistants work in one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, and they are among the lowest-paid health care workers.

Key Personnel Changes Section

The “people” section of my column contains some important news. Read about David Colby’s new position at the RWJF; leadership change at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation; past GrantWatch Blog author Elizabeth Krause’s job promotion; and Grantmakers In Health’s new president and CEO.

Also, in the column, which is free to all, is news of other foundations’ funding of health professions projects. Just click here to read it.

Later this year, watch for an upcoming Health Affairs thematic issue on the health professions workforce!