Recovery Act Funding for Health Professions
Health Professions Challenges
- There are significant shortages of primary care clinicians in regions of the country. For example, the number of medical students selecting primary care continues to decline.
- The need for more nurses is enormous. Over the next decade, nurse retirements and an aging U.S. population will create the need for hundreds of thousands of new nurses. Last year, nearly 50,000 qualified applicants to nursing programs were turned away due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom sites, and budget constraints.
- The health professions workforce does not reflect the diversity of the population it serves: African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are significantly underrepresented. For instance, while African Americans represented 12.2 percent of the US population in 2004, they only accounted for 3.3 percent of the nation’s physicians.
- The current public health workforce is inadequate to meet the health needs of the US population and shortages are projected to reach 250,000 by 2020. As much of public health workforce is employed at the state and local level, this group has been particularly impacted by the economic downturn and shrinking state budgets.
- The HHS Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) health professions programs emphasize providing health care to the underserved. For instance, almost 40 percent of students trained by HRSA-funded programs experience some of their training in underserved areas. Training in underserved areas has been shown to increase the likelihood that the individual will go on to practice in underserved areas.
- In addition, more than half of the students who participate in HRSA-funded programs are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Studies have shown that individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are also more likely to practice in underserved areas.
Meeting the Challenge through Recovery Act Funding
HHS offers several programs funded by the Recovery Act that provide financial assistance, training, and support for the nation’s health professionals. Award information is available by Program and by State. These programs are among those Health Professions programs that have made awards:
- Scholarships for Disadvantaged Health Professions Students
$19.3 million in Recovery Act funds are awarded to health professions schools and training programs to provide full or partial scholarships to full-time health professions students, with preference given to students with financial need. Grantee schools/programs select scholarship recipients and determine their financial need. For additional information, go to: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/scholarshipsloans/
- Centers of Excellence (COE)
$4.9 million in Recovery Act funds are provided to health professions schools to establish or expand programs for underrepresented minority individuals that improve one or more of the following:
COEs may provide stipends and create linkages with institutions of higher education, local school districts and other community based entities. For additional information, go to: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/diversity/
- student academic performance,
- recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty,
- minority health education resources (such as information resources, clinical education, curricula,)
- faculty and student research on minority health issues,
- community-based training opportunities at sites remote from the school, and
- the competitive applicant pool.
- Public Health Traineeships
$3 million in Recovery Act funds are provided to schools of public health and other programs that provide graduate or specialized training in public health to support traineeships that pay tuition, fees, and a living stipend for students in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, toxicology, nutrition, or maternal and child health. For additional information, go to: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/publichealth/
- Nursing Workforce Diversity
$2.6 million in Recovery Act funds are provided for projects that increase nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds (including racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented among registered nurses). Student scholarships or stipends, pre-entry preparation, and retention activities are part of the project. Preference is given to projects that benefit rural or underserved populations or help to meet public health nursing needs. For additional information, go to: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/grantprograms.html
- Health Careers Opportunity Program
$2.5 million in Recovery Act funds are provided to schools and other health professions training programs to establish or expand programs that help individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter and graduate from a health or allied health professions program. Projects address all of the following:
For additional information, go to: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/grants/diversity/
- facilitation of entry into health professions training;
- counseling, mentoring, and other services;
- education and research training prior to enrollment in health professions training;
- financial aid information dissemination;
- exposure to primary health care at community-based providers; and
- expansion of the competitive applicant pool.
- Dental Public Health Residency Training
$810,925 in Recovery Act funds are provided for the planning, development, operation of, and participation (including financial assistance to residents) in approved residency programs in dental public health. For additional information, go to: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/grantprograms.html
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Previously Announced Programs
- Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP)
Recovery Act funding totals $8.1 million. Those funds, awarded competitively, will help 100 registered nurses pay their nursing education debts. The program repays 60 percent of the loan balance of registered nurses in exchange for two years of service at facilities with a critical shortage of nurses. (For a list of facilities employing the first 100 NELRP award winners from ARRA funds, go to http://newsroom.hrsa.gov/releases/2009/nelrprecips.htm) Participants may be eligible to work a third year and receive additional repayment assistance.
- Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP)
Recovery Act funding totals $5.3 million. Those funds go to schools of nursing to support the training of 500 masters and doctoral nursing students who plan to become nurse faculty after completing their education. Following graduation, loan recipients may cancel up to 85 percent of the loan principal and interest in exchange for four years of service as a full-time nursing faculty at a school of nursing. (For a list of universities that received NFLP funds, go to http://newsroom.hrsa.gov/releases/2009/nflp_arra.htm)
- Faculty Loan Repayment Program
The Faculty Loan Repayment Program helps eligible health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds to repay their student loans providing as much as $20,000 a year to eligible faculty members who apply to and are selected to receive funding from the program in return for a 2-year service commitment. Participants should also receive matching funds from their employing educational institution. In addition, Faculty Loan Repayment Program participants receive a tax liability benefit. For additional information, go to: http://www.hrsa.gov/loanscholarships/repayment/Faculty/index.html
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