American Rescue Plan includes $19.2M for training doctors in underserved areas

Teaching health centers in underserved and rural areas and in tribal communities can apply for $19.2 million in federal funding to pay for training for primary care physicians and dentists.

The grant application period continues until March 31 for funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The department in February announced $19.2 million available from the American Rescue Plan Act “to support and expand community-based primary care residency programs.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding the pipeline of health care providers in areas that have been hit hard by the pandemic and are experiencing physician shortages,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This funding provides our primary care workforce with opportunities to train in areas where they can make a profound impact, and is one of the many steps we’re taking to address long-standing health disparities.”

The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education, or THCGME, program supports medical training in community-based care settings such as federally qualified health centers, community mental health centers and rural health clinics.

The training sites offer primary care and dental residents experience working with diverse, high-need patient communities in areas that often lack sufficient primary care physicians and dentists, according to the Health and Human Services Department.

After completing residencies, the majority of program graduates continue to practice in underserved or rural settings. Two-thirds continue to practice primary care – nearly double the average of all medical and dental graduates, according to the federal department.

“Training physician and dental residents in community settings is helping us to build a stronger primary care workforce that better supports the communities served,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson.

The American Rescue Plan funding announced Feb. 3 “will help us to grow the number of primary care residents training and practicing in underserved communities, a critical step toward expanding access to high-quality health care and advancing health equity,” Johnson said.

The latest round of THCGME funding will support the equivalent of about 120 full-time resident positions. The teaching program was started in 2011 and through academic year 2017-2018, it supported training for more than 700 resident full-time equivalents across the United States, according to the HHS report to Congress due in March 2019.

The latest funding supports greater expansion by allowing applicants to apply that recently were accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the Commission on Dental Accreditation . Existing residency program recipients also may apply to increase the number of resident full-time equivalents they support.