Workforce Composition and Distribution

Although most childbearing women and newborns are healthy, care for the majority is managed by specialist physicians whose training focuses primarily on high-risk pregnancy and disease management. Primary maternity care providers such as midwives or family practice physicians, whose training and practice emphasize wellness and prevention, care for smaller proportions of women and newborns in the United States. Regional inequities manifest in oversupply of maternity services in some urban areas, and lack of services in many rural and safety net settings. Workforce attrition and inadequate recruitment across all maternity care professions seriously threaten the future capacity of the maternity professional workforce. Childbearing women and newborns throughout the country need access to services much better aligned with their needs and preferences.

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Major Recommendations

  1. Define national goals for redesign of the U.S. maternity care workforce based on a primary care model with access to collaborative specialty care, consistent with the health care reform priority of primary preventive services and care coordination.
  2. Carry out an independent capacity assessment to determine projected workforce needs, and identify strategies for achieving the optimal maternity care workforce.
  3. Support the appropriate volume, geographic distribution, and density of providers in each discipline through health care policy and reimbursement realignment.
  4. Develop, test, and implement interventions to improve collaborative practice among primary maternity caregivers and other members of the maternity team.

Learn more about the ACTION STEPS for implementing these recommendations. >>

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