Article Summary

The Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research and Policy at Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, is engaged in research to inform health policy, improve health care delivery and promote population health. A large portion of Bowen Center’s current research focuses on the health workforce and the influence of various health care delivery models on access to care.

Named in honor of Otis R. Bowen, M.D., former Governor of Indiana, Secretary of Health and Human Services for the United States, Chair of the National Governors Association, and committed family medicine physician, the Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research & Policy is housed in the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine. Serving alongside stakeholders such as state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic partners, health professionals, employers, and community advocates, the Bowen Center’s work focuses on analyzing complex health sector issues and developing strategic solutions.


To advance policies which improve human health and well-being through commitment to service and research contributions.


Inform policy. Align initiatives. Advance health.


Equity, transparency, collaboration.


Integrity, stewardship, engagement.

The Bowen Center collaborates with governmental organizations, health professional training programs, provider organizations and non-profit agencies at local, state and national levels to evaluate the implementation, effectiveness and impact of their programs on health care access and delivery.

Indiana is fortunate to have such a vital resource providing invaluable research and expertise. The fact sheets and documentation on their website provide insights into an evolution of workforce needs and demands. Workforce groups are now challenged with working with additional partners to accommodate the needs of the “entire” individual.  Monies must be blended, and partnerships forged to enhance the wellness of patients.  Mental health is finally being treated alongside other health concerns.  Data, analysis, and formation of standards for incorporating community health workers into the medical workforce with key stakeholders and government leaders has been an incredible undertaking. Addressing the parameters of Medicaid and Medicare so that providers understand billing with regard to specific services to maximize results has been essential.

With this great work being done at the administrative and policy level, let’s take a closer look at the workforce. With blending of resources, treating the whole individual, and partnering with other key stakeholders, one would think the workload would be easier, yet, somehow, it’s become more tasking. Not to mention how the impact of a pandemic truly changes the world, especially if you are a healthcare provider.

Health workers at all levels are exhausted and overworked.  Staff turnover is extremely high. Agencies are stretched to communicate within their own agencies, so where is the time to partner with others? Have agencies even figured out how to begin the conversation? Creative collaboration is paramount to the success of the individual.  For many agencies who feel like creativity must wait as they are in mere survival mode…” please don’t add anything else to my plate,” let’s take a look at the plate.

Let’s take our researcher’s lead and perform a few studies within our own agencies. Have we performed time studies per task to ensure we have allotted the appropriate expectation for the results we seek? We need to be realistic. In addition to the time study per task, who did we assign to that task? Can we hire a paraprofessional and assign various tasks to them so that our licensed professionals are focused on the areas of their licensure?  Finding and keeping our licensed professionals, especially in our rural areas can truly be a struggle.  Are our licensing agencies working with our providers to meet the needs of recruitment; and, are they working in a timely manner so we don’t lose a possible recruit to another state?

Are employees taking breaks? Encourage breaks. Assign someone to remind employees to take their breaks. Encourage physical and mind clearing exercises. Supervisors, check in with those you supervise!  The number two reason people leave their jobs in healthcare across the country is lack of supervision.  People want and need to know they are on track.  In healthcare, when staff are caring for someone else the entirety of their workday and beyond, hearing from someone saying “good morning (name)”, or “good job”, or “I know that was tough,” can mean a lot to the staff member.

Beyond taking breaks, are we making sure people are taking their vacations? Are we taking lunch hours away from staff by having lunch and learn meetings? Are we serving lunch or giving the staff something for what they’ve given up?  This was a time to run errands for themselves or family, or simply have a quiet re-charge.

Where do staff get that quiet re-charge in your facility? We are all about Trauma Informed Care practices, however, forget that our staff are not robots and the job itself can be traumatic and exhausting. Staff can’t simply drive around the block to avoid recurring trauma. Something awful has most likely occurred in every room of the facility and escaping the memories of it are nearly impossible.

Pull teams together, survey your people. Most healthcare workers really did take these jobs because they wanted to save the world. Give them the energy to do it. Give them the support to do it. Get creative. Once you take a breath, look at what is on your plate, and listen to your staff. You will be able to start the conversation with others that will inspire more good and equitable work to come.

Track the latest legislative issues at Find helpful fact sheets, Indiana data, workforce data, press releases and other resources.