HHS recently announced it had awarded some $20 million in grant funding to help create new rural residency programs nationwide.
The money, released through HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration, will be distributed over a three-year period as part of the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program.(www.hrsa.gov)
Grant recipients in 21 states will receive as much as $750,000 each. A list of entities(www.hrsa.gov) that will benefit from this funding is available online and includes rural hospitals; community health centers; schools of medicine; and health centers run by the Indian Health Service, Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
Once established, the residency programs will seek accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
According to an HHS press release,(www.hhs.gov) the planning and development program is part of a multiyear initiative spearheaded by HRSA to grow the rural physician workforce through the creation of new family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry residencies.
"The health challenges in rural America are clear," said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, M.S., Ph.D., in the press release. "Rural communities face a greater risk of poor health outcomes than their urban counterparts."
HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted the importance of supporting the training of health care professionals in rural areas as a way to expand rural access to care and called it "part of an overall effort to support rural health care in sustainable, innovative and flexible ways."
The release noted that rural residency programs can face obstacles in obtaining long-term funding and faculty support and said the grant awards will help address those challenges.
For its part, the AAFP is acutely aware of the health care disparities facing America's rural communities, including a shortage of family physicians to deliver care in those areas.
To help address the complex issues faced by rural Americans and to improve rural health care across the nation, the AAFP recently launched the Rural Health Matters initiative.
As part of this initiative, the AAFP will, among other things, work with policymakers on payment issues related to rural health, assess the needs of family physicians currently living and working in rural communities, promote the recruitment of family physicians to rural locations, and advocate for more rural residency positions.
Stay tuned to AAFP News for updates on this initiative and to learn more about family physicians who are engaged in the challenging work of rural medicine.
Related AAFP News Coverage
Leader Voices Blog: New AAFP Initiative Addresses Rural Health Care Crisis