economists, biostatisticians, epidemiologists, and health care researchers geared to tracking disease trends, assessing programs and payment strategies, and finding the best ways to deliver the fruits of our nation’s enormous investment in knowledge.
The problem of workforce shortfalls actually begins at the earliest grade levels. By the time American students reach their teen years, their math and science skills compare poorly to those of students from other developed countries. Meanwhile, students’ interest in advanced education in the natural sciences and engineering has declined steadily in recent decades. While other countries are increasing the numbers and skills of their young scientists, America is not (National Science Board, 2006).
Recent real-dollar cutbacks in federal and private-sector support for scientific research, including biomedical research (National Science Board, 2008a), send a signal “to international and American students who may be deterred from pursuing science and engineering careers in this country,” warned National Science Board Chairman Dr. Steven Beering in February 2008 (Beering, 2008).
Congress should give the secretary authority to create new programs that invest in the future generation of biomedical and health services researchers, enabling the continued discovery of new, more effective methods of preventing, treating, and curing disease, promoting health, improving health care delivery and organization, and controlling health system costs.
AcademyHealth. 2006. 2006 HSR impact awardee: The business case for nurse staffing. Washington, DC: AcademyHealth.
ASTHO (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials). 2008. 2007 state public health workforce survey results. Washington, DC: ASTHO.
Beering, S. 2008. Testimony before the Research and Science Education Subcommittee, House Committee on Science and Technology. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.