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HHS grant seeks to draw resident physicians to rural areas


The grant is one part of an effort by policymakers to address the nationwide physician shortage, especially in rural communities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded nearly $20 million in Rural Residency Planning and Development Program (RRPD) grants to develop new residency programs in rural areas.

The funds, awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will help set up 27 new residency programs across 21 states. The residency programs will focus on primary care, including internal medicine and family medicine, and psychiatry.

These grants are part of a multi-year initiative to improve conditions in rural hospitals, schools of medicine, and health centers operated by the Indian Health Service-all of which experience a shortage of physicians and other healthcare providers.

The grant is one part of an effort by policymakers to address the nationwide physician shortage, especially in rural communities. Physicians who learn in rural settings are more likely to stay, according to HHS.

“Training residents in rural areas is one strategy shown to successfully encourage graduates to practice in rural settings,” HRSA Associate Administrator for FORHP Tom Morris said in a news release

More physicians practicing in rural areas will eventually lead to greater overall health for those communities, according to research.

“Rural communities are more likely to have a shortage of health professionals,” Luis Padilla, MD, a family physician and HRSA Associate Administrator for the Bureau of Health Workforce, said in a news release. “The rural residency grants are one more way HRSA is helping to expand the health workforce and increase access to quality healthcare for these communities.”

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health