The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, announced awards Thursday totaling $107.2 million to 310 recipients to increase the health workforce in rural and underserved communities.
Recipients across 45 states and U.S. territories received funding to improve the quality, distribution and diversity of health professionals serving across the country.
The programs' intent is to provide financial and professional support to physicians, faculty, dentists, nurses and students as they pursue careers in healthcare settings. The idea is that awardees will be able to develop and retain clinicians in high-need areas to meet the vital health needs of the most disadvantaged communities.
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WHAT'S THE IMPACT
The awards support several programs, including the following:
- Nurse Faculty Loan Program ($26.7 million, 81 awards). The NFLP expands nursing faculty nationwide. Loans are provided to nursing students who receive up to 85% loan cancellation in exchange for full-time post-graduate employment as nurse faculty.
- Postdoctoral Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry ($13 million, 27 awards). This program provides funding to enhance postdoctoral dental residency training programs in rural communities. The program will improve access to oral health care services for all individuals, especially low-income and underserved populations.
- Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students ($47.8 million, 86 awards). The SDS program increases the diversity of the health workforce. It funds eligible health professions, schools and programs that make scholarships available to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have financial need.
- Nurse Anesthetist Traineeships ($2.5 million, 79 awards). The NAT program provides funding to eligible institutions to cover the costs of traineeships for individuals in nurse anesthesia programs. The funding will help increase the number of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists who can provide care to underserved populations.
- Primary Care Training and Enhancement: Residency Training in Primary Care Program ($8.8 million, 20 awards). The PCTE-RTPC program provides funding to enhance accredited residency training programs in rural and underserved communities. The funding will help address the nation's current physician shortage by increasing the number of residency graduates practicing in areas where there is a deficiency of primary care providers.
- Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Program (IPCP): Behavioral Health Integration ($8.3 million, 17 awards). The NEPQR-BHI program trains and educates the future nursing workforce to provide integrated behavioral health services in rural communities.
More information about HRSA's workforce programs can be found here.
THE LARGER TREND
HHS said it expects to distribute about $15 billion to eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers that have yet to receive a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation. The payment to each provider will be at least 2% of reported gross revenue from patient care; the final amount each provider receives will be determined after the data is submitted, including information about the number of Medicaid patients they serve.
ON THE RECORD
"Supporting a strong health workforce is essential to improving health in rural and underserved communities," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "We've seen stark disparities in health and healthcare access contribute to the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Trump Administration's work to address health disparities, these grants provide support for the training of healthcare workers in rural and underserved communities."
"Access to a robust and high-quality health care workforce is essential for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in underserved areas," said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. "These awards help meet the demand for health care from individuals who urgently need it."