A growing number of studies examining the U.S. health profession workforce have demonstrated the shortages of these providers in rural communities. The demand for health care services continues to increase each year and there is an unequal distribution of health care professionals in rural areas. Many rural communities continue to struggle to recruit and retain an adequate number of primary care health professionals to provide high quality care.
In conjunction with other HRSA bureaus, the Office of Rural Health Policy held a national meeting in Washington, DC focusing on the challenges rural and urban underserved communities face in attracting and retaining an adequate number of primary care providers. This meeting brought together about 500 researchers, clinicians, policy makers, national associations, and community leaders to addresses primary care workforce challenges. Specific attention was given to the current primary care workforce challenges and successful models of primary care training and practice as well as how to identify promising future strategies. Participants provided feedback and comments on what HRSA should be doing now and in the future to address primary care workforce shortages, which are currently under review.
Rural Training Track Technical Assistance Demonstration Program Cooperative Agreement is a demonstration program to form a consortium of organizations to better understand the policy challenges that Rural Training Track (RTT) residency programs face in training family medicine physicians. This consortium will work to identify and analyze the key policy issues affecting these rural training sites and, once these challenges and barriers are identified, to provide technical assistance where appropriate to increase the number of family medicine residents who are trained in RTTs.
Rural Health Workforce Development Program supports the development of rural health networks that focus on activities relating to the recruitment and retention of primary and allied health care providers in rural communities. This Program will provide support to established and sustainable rural health networks that can develop innovative community-based educational and clinical health training programs to encourage the recruitment and retention of emerging health professionals (students and residents) in rural communities to train and eventually practice.
The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) consists of 51 state-based, not-for-profit organizations that encourage and assist physicians and other health professionals in locating practices in underserved rural communities. Members include State Offices of Rural Health; Primary Care; professional associations; Area Health Education Centers; the Cherokee Nation; CNMI, and other not-for-profit entities.
National Center for Rural Health Works (RHW) is an ongoing program that provides technical assistance, tools and training to help States and communities substantiate the broader economic impact of the health care sector as a spur to further investment. RHW also develops profitability studies to help policymakers illustrate the economic benefits of new or expanded services in existing facilities.
Heath Workforce Information Center (HWIC) provides free access to the most recent resources on the nation’s health workforce in one easy-to-use online location. Resources available through HWIC’s Web site will help health providers, educators, researchers and policymakers around the nation develop strategies to meet future workforce demands. HWIC is operated by the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.