geographic distribution, and diversity of the U.S. public health and health care workforces.

  1. To help close projected gaps, the department should evaluate existing health care professional training programs, continued education programs, and graduate medical education funding and encourage Congress to invest in programs with proven effectiveness.


American bioscientists and bioengineers have made innumerable contributions to the prevention, treatment, and cure of many diseases and to mitigating disability by developing advanced prosthetics and other supportive technologies. A strong, well-educated scientific workforce is critical to maintaining America’s economic leadership in the high-tech, knowledge-intensive industries of the twenty-first century.6

The number of U.S. workers in science and engineering overall has steadily grown over the past 50 years, with between 4.5 and 5 million working in the “life sciences” in 2000. Our homegrown workforce has been substantially augmented by foreign-born scientists and engineers. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the increase in demand for scientists and engineers will be nearly double that for other occupations by 2014. Workforce analysts worry that the country will not be able to meet that rate of growth in demand, given large numbers of impending retirements, a need for greater and greater knowledge and skills among young scientists, and unstable funding for many programs. Women, Latinos, and African Americans remain underrepresented in these fields (National Science Board, 2008b). Another barrier to building our science and engineering workforce are restrictions and administrative complexities facing international students and scholars who want to immigrate to the United States (NRC, 2007).

To address the nation’s current health problems, we need not only bench scientists working on new ideas, but a new generation of health


The American public professes interest in scientific discoveries, especially medical ones, and a 2006 survey said they support government funding of basic research (87 percent) and are confident in the nation’s scientific leaders. In a 2005 survey, 71 percent of Americans supported development of biotechnology, specifically (National Science Board, 2008b).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement