2021 NHCW: Get to Know the Community Health Center Workforce

National Health Center Week, coming up August 8-14 this year, is an annual celebration to raise awareness of the mission of community health centers and recognize their accomplishments. As NHCW 2021 approaches, we are taking time to reflect on how health centers, their staff, and their patients each play a part in advancing the health center movement.
Community Health Center Workforce
Community health centers provide comprehensive primary care services to all patients that come through their doors, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for care. Beyond addressing patients' medical needs, health centers provide support services to address patients' non-medical needs and break down barriers to care. Health centers developed a diverse health care workforce to ensure patients receive high-quality primary care and create conditions that allow patients to live healthier lives.
Nationally, health centers employ more than 252,000 staff members, while more than 3,000 staff are employed at health centers in Tennessee. Health centers employ a variety of medical providers including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses along with behavioral health providers, dentists and dental hygienists, pharmacists, among other providers. 
Of health centers medical services staff, 16% are physicians while 17% are nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or certified nurse midwives, and 22% are nurses. Other providers may include medical assistants, nurses' aides, and laboratory personnel.1  Nationally, health centers are hiring non-physicians at higher rates than physicians.2 This trend is reflected in Tennessee's health center workforce. About 5% of health center staff are physicians while more than 9% are physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or certified nurse midwives.3
The diverse medical workforce at health centers is mirrored in breadth and depth of staff members who provide support services and other programs. Nationally, 34% are of these staff are case managers, 19% provide other programs or services, and 15% are eligibility assistance workers.4 The remaining staff serve as patient education specialists, outreach workers, community health workers or provide transportation or translation services.5 These staff members help patients obtain health insurance, sign up for nutrition assistance programs, ensure patients can get to their appointments, and connect patients with other services like stable and secure housing.
The dedicated staff members at health centers in Tennessee and across the country have sustained the community health center movement for more than 50 years. During National Health Center Week, held from August 8-14, we honor and celebrate community health center staff for caring for their patients and communities.
[1] Community Health Center Chartbook. 2021.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Tennessee Health Center Fact Sheet. 2021. PDF. National Association of Community Health Centers.
[4] Community Health Center Chartbook. 2021.
[5] Ibid



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