Q&A with Lynwood (Lynn) Brooks, President of the Health Professions Network
The Health Professions Network (HPN) is comprised of national leaders from allied health professional associations, all levels of education institutions, accrediting agencies, and health care professionals with representation from each of the 50 states. The HPN aims to advance the health care education agenda to include commonly identified and overlapping issues dealing with workforce recruitment, development, retaining, and retention. HWIC staff recently had the opportunity to speak with HPN’s current president, Lynn Brooks – also a recent recipient of the HPN’s Distinguished Service Award for his work on the Health Professions Awareness national campaign– about the past, present, and future of the HPN and allied health.
The Health Professions Network (HPN) has been around since 1995. Could you tell us a little about how it got started and has changed over the past sixteen years?
The initial focus of HPN was allied health professions. Up to that point in time, most of the professions outside of nursing were isolated from each other, diverse and fragmented in what they were trying to do, and pretty much operating on their own. Likewise, the various levels of education tended to be separate from each other. Many of the professional associations were just starting up.
The goal of HPN was to bring all of these diverse groups into one setting and discuss the various interests and issues that were common to all of us. The agreement was – and continues to be – that the needs of the health care industry override the needs of the individual organizations. We are focused on the commitment to interdisciplinary communication, discussion, and collaboration.
To the best of my knowledge, HPN is still the only network or organization that brings professional associations, educational institutions and systems, providers, credentialing groups, and administrators together on a regular basis to discuss issues and address common problems and opportunities.
What are some of those common issues that you see across allied health?
Most of the topics and issues we see have been around for decades. They may be redefined, but they are certainly not new. There are broad topic areas – things such as educational staffing; workplace retention, retraining, and recruitment; workforce data; policy; funding, economic support, rural and urban supply and demand; and diversity and cultural competency – and then a maze of individual issues within each of those areas, and each stakeholder offers different perspectives related to how these individual issues should be addressed. The goal of HPN is to work together to find as much common ground within each issue as we can.
The new HPN Summit Series addresses the broad topics separately. Stakeholders offer presentations to highlight the various issues within each topic; we discuss these issues and identify possible solutions. More often than not, we’re able to capture best practices and create models for others to identify and implement.
You sound very enthusiastic about all of the progress that is being made. Could you tell me about HPN’s involvement with Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)?
HOSA, with approximately 130,000 students, is one of the largest groups we work with. Their advisors are some of the most dedicated educators there are; they’ve a great job of exposing new students to allied health careers and mentoring them through all of the options they have.
What other groups does HPN work with related to workforce pipeline?
The National Area Health Education Center Organization (NAO), National Consortium of Health Science Education (NCHSE), and National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) come to mind. I’d like to note the amount of interaction these groups have with each other. Whatever competition that might have existed in the past between them has long since given way to overlapping collaboration that has added significant value to each group. These are the types of discussions and collaborations HPN is working for.
At the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) conference in Washington, D.C., you presented an “Awareness Campaign” for Allied Health. Could you elaborate on that program?
Several years ago, HPN wanted to develop a program that would effectively market allied health careers to students. At that time, the Johnson & Johnson “Discover Nursing” campaign had hit its peak and was doing a tremendous job of recruiting students into nursing. HPN, with its focus on allied health, wanted to build a similar program to let students know about other careers in health care besides nursing. We worked with consultants and developed a program strategy to expose students to allied health career options. An overview of the campaign is included in my IOM presentation, HPN Partnership Outreach: Meeting the Workforce Needs of the Healthcare Industry. We are now looking to develop key partnerships with other HPN member groups and take this awareness program to the national level.
How can an organization get involved in HPN?
I’d encourage any health professions association, education institution, or health care corporation to consider membership in HPN. Details about membership are available on the HPN web site. To find out more, please email email@example.com.
Lynn Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406.273.7028. A list of HPN member organizations is available online.
Please note that the views expressed in this article are the opinions of the interviewee and do not reflect the official policies, positions, or opinions of the Health Workforce Information Center or its funder.