HHS awards $55.5 million to bolster America’s health care workforce

Kathleen Sebeliusby Arthur Seaton | December 06, 2013

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced $55.5 million in funding awarded in FY 2013 to strengthen training for health professionals and increase the size of the nation’s health care workforce.

The majority of the money will will go to nursing advancement courses and making sure that the nursing profession is diverse, with $5.2 million going to expands educational opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities who are underrepresented among registered nurses.

  • Increasing the number of nurse faculty provides $22.1 million in low-interest loans to nurses to train to become faculty and loan cancellation for service as faculty.
  • Increasing nurse anesthetist traineeships ($2.2 million) — supports nurse anesthetist programs to provide traineeships to licensed registered nurses enrolled as full-time students in a master’s or doctoral nurse anesthesia program.
  • Promoting interprofessional collaborative practice ($6.7 million) — brings together interprofessional teams of nurses and other health professionals to develop and implement innovative practice models for providing care.
  • No money has been allotted to train Licensed Practical Nurses to move up in their careers, such as to R.N.’s

“These grants and the many training programs they support have a real impact by helping to create innovative care delivery models and improving access to high-quality care,” Secretary Sebelius said.

More than 270 grants will address health workforce needs in nursing, public health, behavioral health, health workforce development, and dentistry.  The grants are managed by HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

A majority of the funding, $45.4 million, will support nursing workforce development in the following areas:

Funding also supports training of doctoral-level psychologists to address the behavioral health needs of vulnerable and underserved populations ($2.4 million);  accredited residency programs in preventive medicine and public health ($3 million); and four health workforce research centers ($1.4 million) to improve understanding of both local and national health workforce needs.

An additional $3.1 million will help state designated dental health professional shortage areas develop and implement innovative programs to address dental workforce needs. States must match at least 40 percent of the grant funding or provide equivalent support.

“These grants cover a wide spectrum of health workforce needs,” said HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N.  “From diversity to dentistry – all are critical to achieving a skilled workforce now and in the future.”