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Summary I n two lively days of presentations and discussions, a recurring view was that, due to an aging and retiring work force, growing numbers of cancer survivors, and an aging patient population, the demand for cancer care will outpace the supply of the wide spectrum of oncology health care workers involved in cancer care; this potential workforce shortage is likely to affect physicians, nurses, allied health care professionals, physician assistants, social workers, public health workers, and cancer registrars. These workforce shortages are problematic because they will lessen both the access to and the quality of care available for cancer patients, and may increase the burden on families of individuals with cancer. The implications of these workforce shortages will also affect a wide range of institutions, including research institutions, training hospitals and academic cancer centers, and community practices. Several strategies were proposed to ameliorate these shortages, includ- ing (1) improving the recruitment and retention of various professionals; (2) developing new models of care, especially in the areas of survivorship, palliative care, and family caregiving; (3) increasing the education capacity and training of the health care workforce, by providing potential students with incentives such as scholarship or loan repayment programs, and by providing institutions with incentives to expand training program Âcapacity; (4) continuing support for health research; and (5) changing federal policy on funding and reimbursement for cancer care, including providing 65
66 ENSURING QUALITY CANCER CARE reimburseÂment mechanisms that reflect comprehensive, multidisciplinary cancer care delivery. In addition, many of the workshop participants sug- gested that the various professionals involved in cancer care should work with each other, to implement and achieve these proposed strategies in order to ensure the workforce is not overburdened in the future and can meet the nationâs Âquality cancer care needs.