Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the availability of $200 million to support grants, loans, loan repayment, and scholarships to expand the training of health care professionals.  The funds are expected to train approximately 8,000 students and credentialed health professionals by the end of fiscal year 2010.

Today’s funds are part of the $500 million allotted to HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to address workforce shortages under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"Health care reform cannot happen without an adequate supply of well-trained, well-distributed providers," said Secretary Sebelius.
"These ARRA funds provide targeted investments in primary care, nursing, faculty development, and equipment purchases that will shore up the workforce as we prepare for reform."

"Our health professions programs have been significantly underfunded these past few years," said Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration. "These funds will help us begin to rebuild the infrastructure that is so essential to producing the number of skilled health professionals the Nation needs."

The $200 million will be directed to the following program areas:

*       $80.2 million for scholarships, loans, and loan repayment awards to students, health professionals, and faculty.  Of those funds, $39 million will be targeted to nurses and nurse faculty, $40 million to disadvantaged students in a wide range of health professions, and $1.2 million to health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds.

*       $50 million in grants to health professions training programs. Funds will be used to purchase equipment needed to expand programs and improve the quality of training.

*       $47.6 million to support primary care training programs. These funds will support the training of residents, medical students,
physician assistants, dentists and individuals, many of whom will practice in underserved areas.

*       $10.5 million to strengthen the public health workforce.  Funds will support public health traineeships and increase the number of
individuals trained through preventive medicine and dental public health residencies.

*       $10.2 million to increase the diversity of the healthprofessions workforce.

*       And $1.5 million to support the efforts of state professional licensing boards in reducing barrier to telemedicine.

HRSA is using a competitive process to award all funds. Some awards will be made over the next several months. In addition, funding opportunities for some programs will be announced over the next several months, giving applicants adequate time to prepare materials.

The remaining $300 million in ARRA workforce funds is being used to expand HRSA’s National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment for primary care providers who serve in health professional shortage areas.  In addition, HRSA received $2 billion through ARRA to expand health care services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program.

Source: HHS