Goal 1. Objective 4: Strengthen and expand the health care workforce to meet America's diverse needs
Whether people access health care in a doctor's office, in a health center, in a pharmacy, at home, or through a mobile device, they depend on a qualified, competent, responsive workforce to deliver high-quality care. HHS regularly produces reports projecting growth or deficits in the supply and demand of various occupations in the health care workforce. At a national level, by 2025, demand is expected to exceed supply for several critical health professions, including primary care practitioners, geriatricians, dentists, and behavioral health providers, including psychiatrists, mental health and substance abuse social workers, mental health and substance use disorder counselors, and marriage and family therapists. At a state level, the picture is more complex, with some states projected to experience greater deficits in certain health care occupations. For example, rural areas experience greater shortages in the oral and behavioral health workforces. HHS works in close partnership with academic institutions, advisory committees, research centers, and primary care offices. These collaborations help HHS make informed decisions on policy and program planning to strengthen and expand the workforce.
The Office of the Secretary leads this objective. The following divisions are responsible for implementing programs under this strategic objective: CDC, CMS, HRSA, IHS, OCR, and SAMHSA. In consultation with OMB, HHS has determined that performance toward this objective is progressing. The narrative below provides a brief summary of progress made and achievements or challenges, as well as plans to improve or maintain performance.
Objective 1.4 Table of Related Performance Measures
Support field strength (participants in service) of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) (Lead Agency - HRSA; Measure ID - 4.I.C.2)15, 16, 17
|FY 2014||FY 2015||FY 2016||FY 2017||FY 2018||FY 2019||FY 2020||FY 2021|
|Status||Target Exceeded||Target Exceeded||Target Exceeded||Target Exceeded||Target Exceeded||Target Exceeded||Pending||Pending|
The National Health Service Corps addresses the nationwide shortage of health care providers in health professional shortage areas by providing recruitment and retention incentives in the form of scholarship and loan repayment support to health professionals committed to a career in primary care and service to underserved communities. The NHSC field strength indicates the number of providers actively serving with the NHSC in underserved areas in exchange for scholarship or loan repayment support.
As of September 30, 2019, 13,053 primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health practitioners were providing service nationwide through the following programs: NHSC Scholarship Program, NHSC Loan Repayment Program, NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program, and the State Loan Repayment Program. These programs collectively serve the immediate needs of underserved communities and support the development and maintenance of a pipeline of health care providers capable of meeting the needs of these communities in the future. In FY 2020 and FY 2021, NHSC will continue to assist students through scholarships and loan repayments and professionals through loan repayment awards as incentives to practice in underserved communities.
15 This measure reports on the number of people who received assistance through the NHSC scholarship and loan programs who are currently in the field. NHSC field strength data include awards made from the FY 2017 Zika Supplemental, which supported providers in the U.S. territories.
16 Field disciplines include: allopathic/osteopathic physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, mental and behavioral health professionals, and clinicians.
17 Previously HRSA reported an FY 2019 target of 8,810 NHSC participants in the field. Since the publication of the FY 2019 APP/R, HRSA has received additional FY 2019 funding and has increased its targets accordingly.