By Anne Cantrell MSU News Service

BOZEMAN — Montana State University is the new home of a center focused on health workforce issues.

The Montana Board of Regents approved the MSU Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies in March. Its purpose is to generate research and information regarding key trends in nursing and other health workforces, to analyze that information and to share it with stakeholders.

The center’s ultimate mission is to improve the performance of the national health care delivery system.

The center was originally housed at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., but moved to MSU after its director, Peter Buerhaus, accepted a position in the MSU College of Nursing.

Buerhaus said the center addresses an issue of vast importance to the economy of Montana and to its people.

“Health care is one of the fastest growing industries, and it’s going to hire significant numbers of people at [relatively high] incomes,” he said. “From an employment perspective, health care is important, and it’s also important from a public health perspective.”

Buerhaus noted the center has a national focus, but at the same time it’s also concerned with rural issues.

“The center contributes momentum to what appears to be a growing focus among the state, the university system and the private sector regarding improving health care in rural Montana,” he said.

The center shares information through its website healthworkforcestudies.com, as well as via webinars and conferences it organizes for researchers, policy makers, members of the media and other stakeholders.

“The College of Nursing is delighted to have the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies and Dr. Buerhaus here at Montana State,” said Helen Melland, dean of the college.

“An understanding of workforce needs is important to the College of Nursing as we prepare future nurses,” she said. “The research performed by Dr. Buerhaus and others in the center can help us better understand healthcare. Ultimately, it will benefit patients and care providers.”

An internationally renowned nurse economist, Buerhaus’ research includes forecasting nurse and physician supply; developing and testing measures of the quality of care in hospitals; determining public and provider opinions on issues involving the delivery of health care; and assessing the quantity and quality of health care provided by nurse practitioners.

Now housed in the MSU College of Nursing, the center is funded entirely by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a private organization based in the San Francisco Bay area. The foundation works to achieve significant, lasting and measurable outcomes in the areas of scientific discovery, environmental conservation, and patient care improvements.