- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced over $149 million in awards to support healthcare employment efforts to increase the number of primary care providers, the federal agency announced.
To help prepare the next generation of primary care providers, HRSA awarded the grants through 12 workplace programs.
“These awards will help increase access to quality healthcare for all Americans by educating and training culturally competent providers who are prepared to practice in high-need areas,” said Jim Macrae, HRSA Acting Administrator. “By encouraging partnerships among academic institutions, clinicians, healthcare sites and public health entities, we can improve health outcomes in underserved communities.”
In light of new value-based care methods, the administration designed the grants to highlight the importance of diversity, distribution of clinicians, and quality care. Through the awards, recipients should engage in more team-based and inter-professional approaches to healthcare delivery.
“Our vision is to positively impact every aspect of the health professional’s career, from education and training to service,” Macrae added. “These awards will increase the number of health professionals providing quality care to the nation’s most vulnerable populations.”
The workplace programs that awarded the most grants including the following:
• The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program gave 78 grants, totaling $42.3 million, to healthcare profession schools to provide scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds and demonstrating financial need. The grants aim to foster diversity in the professional healthcare industry.
• With $24 million, the Nurse Faculty Loan Program provided 89 nursing schools with funding to boost qualified nursing faculty. The schools can use the grants to offer eligible students partial loan forgiveness after graduation.
• Through the Advance Education Nursing Traineeship program, 69 advanced nursing programs received a total of $22.9 million. The awards are designed to support advanced practice nurse training and highlight the role nurses play in delivering primary care services, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
• The Primary Care Training and Enhancement program offered 33 awards, totaling $14.5 million, to hospitals, medical schools, academically affiliated physician assistant training programs and other facilities to improve the quality and quantity of the primary care workforce. The grants also aim to increase diversity and distribution of primary care providers.
• Using $11.3 million, the Advanced Nursing Education program funded 19 projects that are designed to create and test academic-practice partnership models for clinical education. The program intends for the awards to help primary care advanced practice nursing students provide high quality care.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA provided similar awards to boost the primary care workforce. It awarded $240 million, including $176 million in Affordable Care Act funding, to the National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps for scholarships and loan repayment programs.
The funding aimed to increase primary care accessibility in underserved communities by providing more financial support to healthcare professionals.
“The most critical step in connecting people to quality healthcare is a primary care provider,” said Sylvia Burwell, HHS Secretary. “These awards provide financial support directly to health professionals, including physicians, registered nurses, and physician assistants, to help individuals – particularly the 17.6 million uninsured who have recently gained coverage – find the primary care services they need.”
The recent HRSA grants may help to relieve recent physician shortages, especially in the area of primary care.
A 2015 study from the Association of American Medical Colleges estimated a shortage of 12,000 to 31,000 primary care physicians by 2025. The whole healthcare industry could see a shortage of up to 90,000 physicians in the next decade, the study added.
Additionally, some physicians are choosing to retire or quit because of financial challenges, the Texas Medical Association reported in a survey last year. Nearly half of the physicians who stopped treating patients in an active medical practice cited regulatory and administrative burdens.
These providers explained that potential claims disruptions and denials from regulations influenced their decision.
With more physicians bowing out of the industry because of healthcare revenue cycle hardships, financial support grants could help the next generation of primary care physicians manage similar challenges and keep practicing.