New Resource Spotlight: Scaling Up Health Workforce Education and Training: Guide for Applying the Bottlenecks and Best Buys Approach

To achieve universal health coverage and better health outcomes, the world needs more health workers. The global deficit of doctors, nurses, and midwives has reached over seven million, and could rise to 12.9 million by 2035. Educating and training an ample supply of new health workers, though, is hindered by a limited number of schools and the scarcity of resources to scale up their efforts.

CapacityPlus created the Bottlenecks and Best Buys Approach to help health professional schools pinpoint the obstacles they face in increasing the number of competent and qualified graduates, and then select priority challenges that can be overcome through limited yet strategic investments.

Guide for Applying the Bottlenecks and Best Buys ApproachScaling Up Health Workforce Education and Training: Guide for Applying the Bottlenecks and Best Buys Approach draws from CapacityPlus’s experience of adapting and applying the approach in more than 30 nursing, midwifery, medical, health assistant, and community health extension worker schools, both public and privately owned, in seven African countries.

Authors Rebecca J. Bailey and Kate Tulenko of IntraHealth International describe the stakeholders who should be involved in a bottlenecks assessment, the steps for conducting the assessment, and a method for using the results to identify and build consensus on the most effective and affordable actions (best buys) for overcoming bottlenecks.

The guide also provides tools and examples for strategic steps in the approach, such as engaging stakeholders, conducting a situation analysis, defining the school’s scale-up goal, leading group interviews, analyzing the results, and presenting the final report to stakeholders and potential investors. Nine annexes offer downloadable tools and templates to make the process as easy as possible.

“Traditional approaches to scaling up health worker education and training have focused on updating curricula,” says Bailey. “However, most educational institutions face significant challenges in the learning environment, including shortages of qualified teachers, appropriate learning materials, and relevant clinical practice sites. Challenges such as these make it very difficult to deliver a curriculum, no matter how good it is. The Bottlenecks and Best Buys Approach is designed to help stakeholders in education overcome challenges in both defining and delivering curricula in order to quickly scale up the production of competent and qualified graduates.”

To learn more, access the guide and annexes, along with related resources. And let us know what you think; we welcome your feedback.

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