Meeting California’s Demand for Allied Health Workers


From health technicians to medical assistants, a well-trained allied health workforce is critical to the well-being of all Californians, especially during a pandemic. However, California currently suffers from a growing deficit of these essential workers. To help understand and address the challenges that stand in the way of filling these high-demand jobs, California Competes examined the education-to-employment pipeline for this field and offers solutions for addressing the shortage.

In this report, we analyze the barriers limiting our supply of allied health professionals and offer solutions for addressing an anticipated annual shortage of up to 37,000 workers. Among the most significant challenges at hand are pipeline “bottlenecks,” wherein more students are trying to fulfill their required clinical hours—which are as high as 1,850 hours, depending on the program—than there are clinical hours available.

The report identifies key strategies to meet the need for clinical placements as well as solutions specific to the bottleneck issue. Together, these solutions would advance systematic, long-term, and innovative policy changes to help allied health students move quickly to and through the training pipeline and into essential healthcare roles.

key findings

The state’s allied health worker training pipeline requires three categories of solutions to address the bottleneck issue:

  1. Changes in collective stakeholder efforts: Strengthening regional consortia composed of educational institutions, employers, and community organizations who are committed to addressing the bottleneck problem.
  2. Changes in education programs: Increasing the use of various simulation modalities, implementing credit for prior learning and competency-based education, and incorporating the use of telehealth are all ways to help students achieve minimum competencies.
  3. Changes in employers: Incentivizing clinical training sites to increase clinical training opportunities, identifying currently untapped physical facilities, and expanding the use of Federally Qualified Health Centers can help with not having enough clinical placements for students.

Watch this important discussion on how to solve California’s allied health worker shortage. “Critical Care: Increasing the Capacity of Allied Health Training Programs” expands on our new research and elevates strategies to put more allied health professionals on the front lines of patient care.

  • Assemblymember Evan Low, Representing the 28th District
  • Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO, Futuro Health
  • Dr. Stacey Ocander, Vice President, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
  • Dr. Carel Mountain, Director of Nursing, Sacramento City College

California Competes Executive Director Dr. Su Jin Gatlin Jez moderates the conversation and Senior Policy and Research Analyst Gail Yen provides a short presentation on our research.

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