Bureau of Health Workforce

The Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) improves the health of underserved and vulnerable populations by strengthening the health workforce and connecting skilled professionals to communities in need. We accomplish this by focusing on three priorities:

  • Preparing a workforce that increases the number of diverse, culturally competent primary care providers representing various disciplines;
  • Improving workforce distribution throughout the nation, particularly in underserved, rural, and tribal areas; and
  • Transforming health care delivery by supporting innovate models of care that integrate health care services and disciplines.

Scholarship, Loan, and Loan Repayment Programs for Health Professionals

Through scholarship, loan, and loan repayment programs, we help underserved communities recruit and retain primary health care providers. These programs include:

Health Professions Training Grants to Support Academic Institutions

We support the development of a robust primary care workforce through Health Professions Training Grants that:

  • increase diversity,
  • encourage clinicians to practice in underserved areas, and 
  • foster interprofessional training and practice.

These programs advance the education and training of a 21st century health workforce and work to address existing and projected demand for skilled health professionals in high-need areas nationwide.

Strategic Partnerships

To help achieve our mission, we work with diverse stakeholders, including associations, organizations, academic and research institutions, and health care entities.

  • The members of our five Advisory Committees provide expertise and recommendations on matters relating to our programs and program development.
  • Our national centers improve clinical training and research in primary care and support evaluation, research, data, and evidence to advance interprofessional education and practice.
  • By funding Health Workforce Research Centers, we support high quality, impartial, policy-relevant research on the health workforce and primary care training to assist decision-makers in better understanding health workforce needs.
  • Working with Primary Care Offices, we undertake initiatives centered on improving access to healthcare for medically underserved areas and populations.

Shortage Designation

We manage the designation of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/P), which are used to determine eligibility for federal programs including:

  • National Health Service Corps
  • NURSE Corps
  • Health Center Program
  • Rural Health Clinic Program
  • Medicare HPSA Bonus Payment  
  • Exchange Visitor and Conrad State 30 programs 

Health Workforce Analysis

Our National Center for Health Workforce Analysis—the national resource for workforce projections—is responsible for health professions workforce data collection, analysis, and evaluation efforts.

The Center examines issues that impact the supply, demand, distribution, and education of the nation’s health workforce, and provides policymakers with the information necessary to make decisions regarding the health professions workforce and delivery of care.

National Practitioner Data Bank

Authorized health care entities use The National Practitioner Data Bank to access information about past adverse actions of practitioners, providers, and suppliers to:

  • protect the public
  • improve health care quality
  • deter fraud and abuse in the U.S. health care system

Last Reviewed: August 2016