About the Sentinel Network

What is the Health Workforce Sentinel Network?

Washington’s Health Workforce Sentinel Network is a tool to understand employers’ workforce needs – such as challenges related to recruitment, retention and needed skills – and make that information available to educators and policy makers. Having an ample workforce is key to overcoming the state’s top healthcare challenges.

The Health Workforce Sentinel Network supports efficient and effective health workforce preparation and deployment by:

  • Identifying the skills needed and local conditions that may make hiring difficult
  • Providing information about the “how and why” behind workforce demand signals
  • Engaging the full network of stakeholders needed to identify and solve workforce problems

Health workforce employer Sentinels can:

  • Communicate their health workforce needs to decisionmakers
  • Ensure that the state’s health workforce is prepared to respond to the transforming health care environment
  • Have access to current and actionable information about emerging workforce needs
  • Compare their organization’s experiences and emerging workforce demand trends with similar employer groups.

Every six months, employers (“Sentinels”) from across the state and from a wide range of healthcare sectors share their top workforce challenges. This information is used to identify signals of changes in the healthcare workforce and possible solutions. The data are compiled and made available on the Sentinel Network website and disseminated through meetings and reports so that employer needs are communicated to stakeholders who can make the necessary changes.

Information provided by employer Sentinels are kept confidential and are reported in aggregate form, grouped with data from other similar organizations.

How is the Health Workforce Sentinel Network Used?

The Sentinel Network allows employers who participate to make their needs known to stakeholders who can help solve workforce problems, such as legislators, education planners and healthcare system leaders. Below are examples of how the Sentinel Network amplifies the voices of healthcare employers throughout the state:

Informs Planners to Formulate Health Workforce Policies

State Behavioral Health Workforce Assessments

Findings from the Sentinel Network were used to supplement key informant interviews for two recent reports prepared for the Governor’s office assessing the behavioral health workforce in Washington.

The Washington Health Workforce Council

The Washington Health Workforce Council highlights findings from the Sentinel Network each year in its annual reports to the Governor and the Legislature. The Sentinel Network is a program of the Council whose members are many of the leaders who use the findings in policy, planning and practice.

Amplifies Employer Voices Through Outreach Initiatives to Key Stakeholders

The Sentinel Network and its findings are presented to support workforce demand topics presented at state meetings and planning sessions. Presentations to groups such as the Deans and Directors of Washington State Community Colleges and the Health Workforce Council highlight the messages shared by employers and give stakeholders the opportunity to understand and interpret the findings.

Colleges are adjusting programming to respond to industry needs. The Sentinel Network is a valued resource that supports the efforts of higher education to produce the essential health workforce.

Dan Ferguson / Director, Washington State Allied Health Center of Excellence, Yakima Valley College

Findings Are Publicly Available and Used as a Resource by Educators and Employers

The findings briefs and dashboards on this website are publicly available and are updated twice a year. Educators and employers use these findings to support grant applications, compare the needs of their organization to those of other similar organizations, and plan health workforce development initiatives, among many other uses.

The Sentinel Network delivers current and valuable workforce data that informs our various scholarship models, ensuring that our state has the talent it needs to respond to the transforming health care environment.

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Administrators

It’s really a lifesaver to have access to reports at the frequency you’re running them. Otherwise, our healthcare programs struggle to get the labor market info they need to justify grant requests and calibrate enrollment cohorts. Thank you!

Carolyn McKinnon / Policy Associate, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

Overall, the Sentinel Network has shown value in Washington by providing:

  • Rapid turnaround of signals of health workforce demand changes
  • Identification of skills needed and local conditions that may make hiring difficult
  • Information about the “how and why” behind health workforce demand signals
  • Engagement of the full network of stakeholders needed to identify and help solve health workforce problems