HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced awards totaling $33 million to expand the training of health care professionals.
The 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).
"President Obama is committed to passing health insurance reform and we're closer to reform than ever before," said Secretary Sebelius. "The Recovery Act will help ensure we grow our health care workforce and give our aspiring doctors, nurses and health professionals the tools and training they need to provide top-quality care to more Americans."
"As we mark 200 days since President Obama signed ARRA, HRSA has moved quickly to distribute most of the $2.5 billion assigned to us," said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. "These funds are helping us rebuild the infrastructure needed to produce more skilled health professionals, and they are expanding essential primary care services to hundreds of thousands of additional Americans through our health center system."
The grants announced today, with funding totals, are distributed through six HRSA programs:
Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students, $19.3 million. This program funds health professions schools and training programs which, in turn, provide scholarships to full-time health professions students, with priority given to those with financial need.
Centers of Excellence, $4.9 million. This program funds health professions schools to establish or expand programs for minority individuals. Funds may be used to improve student academic performance, recruit and retain minority faculty, and expand opportunities to train at off-campus, community-based health care sites.
Public Health Traineeships, $3 million. This program funds schools of public health to support traineeships that pay tuition, fees, and stipends for students in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, toxicology, nutrition, or maternal and child health.
Nursing Workforce Diversity, $2.6 million. This program increases nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds through student scholarships or stipends, pre-entry preparation, and retention activities.
Health Careers Opportunities, $2.5 million. This program funds schools and health professions training sites to establish or expand programs that help individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds enter and graduate from a health professions program.
Dental Public Health Residency Training, $810,925. This program funds residency programs in dental public health, including financial aid to residents.
Today's grants follow an Aug. 12 announcement by HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr of $13.4 million in ARRA funds for loan repayments to nurses who agree to practice in facilities with critical shortages and for schools of nursing to provide loans to students who will become nurse faculty.
To date, HHS has announced the availability of nearly $200 million in ARRA workforce funds, of a total $300 million, to expand HRSA's National Health Service Corps. The funds will pay for student loan repayments for primary care medical dental and mental health clinicians who wish to practice, for a minimum of two years, in NHSC sites that treat underserved and uninsured people.
In addition, HRSA received $2 billion through ARRA to expand health care services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program. To date, more than $1.3 billion of these funds have been awarded to community-based organizations across the country. HRSA-supported health centers treated 17 million patients in 2008, 40 percent of whom have no health insurance.
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