HHS releases $200M from ARRA to train health professionals
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the release of $200 million to support grants, loans, loan repayment and scholarships to expand the training of healthcare professionals. The funds are expected to train approximately 8,000 students and credentialed health professionals by the end of fiscal year 2010.

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) of 2009.

The $200 million will be directed to the following program areas:
  • $80.2 million for scholarships, loans and loan-repayment awards to students, health professionals and faculty. (Of those funds, $39 million will be targeted to nurses and nurse faculty, $40 million to disadvantaged students in a wide range of health professions and $1.2 million to health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds.)
  • $50 million in grants to health professions training programs;
  • $47.6 million to support primary care training programs;
  • $10.5 million to strengthen the public health workforce;
  • $10.2 million to increase the diversity of the health professions workforce; and
  • $1.5 million to support the efforts of state professional licensing boards in reducing barriers to telemedicine.

HRSA is using a competitive process to award the funds. Some awards will be made over the next several months. Some funding opportunities will be announced over the next several months, giving applicants adequate time to prepare materials.

The remaining $300 million in ARRA workforce funds is being used to expand HRSA's National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment for primary care providers who serve in health professional shortage areas. In addition, HRSA received $2 billion through ARRA to expand healthcare services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program.

"Our health professions programs have been significantly underfunded these past few years," said Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, HRSA administrator. "These funds will help us begin to rebuild the infrastructure that is so essential to producing the number of skilled health professionals the nation needs."