The health care industry is one of the largest employers in Alaska. Health care workers, ranging from physicians and administrators to public health workers and allied health professionals, are distributed across the state. For this project, allied health workers are defined as those professions and occupations that provide physical and behavioral health support in the health care field. The purpose of the Allied Health Workforce Assessment is to determine the current and projected training needs of the Alaskan allied health workforce. This information will enable the University of Alaska to plan future training programs in the health care field. This assessment took a "snapshot view" of the Alaskan allied health workforce in terms of number of employees, vacancies, annual turnover, projected future needs and recruitment difficulties ? to determine the areas of greatest need. It also collected qualitative information regarding training needs, cross training, general trends and suggestions to the University of Alaska for planning health related coursework and programs. Working in collaboration with staff and representatives of health care industry organizations, Project Team members developed a data collection instrument and generated a list of 74 occupations in October 2000. Pilot surveys were conducted in four sites across the state during November 2000. Based on feedback from these pilots, the survey instrument was revised and finalized.
In largely rural states, such as Alaska, there have been historic difficulties in recruiting and retaining an effective behavioral health workforce. The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health described in detail the significant problems facing mental or behavioral health systems throughout the country. Indications are that shortages will become more severe in the next decade, and that professionals will need to have new skills to work in a more integrated behavioral health environment.
In December 2002, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded funds to the Municipality of Anchorage SAFE City Program to implement the
Pathways to Sobriety project. This multi-faceted project was aimed at improving the well-being of individuals exhibiting chronic public inebriation in Anchorage. More specifically, the target population consisted of individuals with more than 19 admissions per year to the city?s protective care facility, better known as the Community Transfer Station
Recent advances in telemedicine technologies and support for advanced telehealth network systems opened the door for a dramatic improvement in the delivery of healthcare and health education to remote and rural healthcare settings in Alaska. This report includes the history of experience and knowledge stemming from over 25 years of telemedicine efforts, which positioned Alaska to develop and deploy the AFHCAN project, the largest telehealth endeavor to date in the world.
The People Awakening Project was created by a group of Alaska Native community members and University of Alaska researchers in response to the Anchorage Daily News "People in Peril" series. Many people in Native communities no longer wanted to hear only of lives in peril. They wanted to hear stories of hope and success. This project looks at sobriety, not just alcohol abuse. The aim was to study the life stories of Alaska Natives living a life of sobriety to discover what protected people from alcohol abuse and what helped others recover. The People Awakening Project collected over 100 life stories throughout the state.