Goal 2: Foster a Health Care Workforce Able to Address Current and Emerging Needs

Many areas across the nation face shortages of critical health care workers, including primary care physicians, nurses, behavioral health, and public health professionals. HRSA endeavors to ensure that underserved urban and rural communities have well-trained, diverse health care providers to deliver and support needed care.

HRSA supports a health care workforce, which includes not only those providers with direct patient care responsibilities, but also other public health and community professionals and paraprofessionals who support the health and well being of the population. HRSA’s health professions scholarship and loan repayment programs place primary care and other clinicians in underserved areas.

HRSA’s education and training programs provide support to medical, nursing, social worker, and other professional and para-professional schools to focus on improving workforce supply, specialty and geographic distribution, and diversity, and to encourage innovation in the education and training of the health professions workforce.

In 2019 – 2022, HRSA will focus efforts to ensure the health care workforce in underserved and rural communities has the necessary skillsets to meet critical local-area needs and promote efforts to retain health care workers in areas of need to achieve improved health outcomes over time.  

OBJECTIVE 2.1:  Advance the competencies of the health workforce


2.1.1 Ensure the health care workforce is able to support community-specific needs and is sufficiently agile to anticipate and respond to emerging health care issues by supporting curriculum development, training, and other activities.

2.1.2 Educate students and providers on how to work in interprofessional teams and participate in practice transformations through the expansion of the number and type of training and technical assistance opportunities.

2.1.3 Improve provider recruitment and retention in HRSA-supported programs by focusing on evidence-based and innovative provider and staff satisfaction models of service delivery and management.

2.1.4 Assist HRSA-trained health care providers to expand, coordinate, and effectively use health information technology, including telehealth, to improve service delivery by providing technical assistance, training, and other educational opportunities.

2.1.5 Enhance the knowledge and use of current preventive services, treatment guidelines, appropriate promising practices, and evidence-based models of care by health care providers at HRSA-supported organizations by disseminating necessary information, providing technical assistance, and encouraging peer-to-peer learning.

2.1.6 Ensure existing HRSA-trained providers can address the social determinants of health and emerging health care needs by implementing a strategic, coordinated approach across training center programs to provide continuing education.

2.1.7 Improve accountability of health care workforce training and optimize training grant funding through longitudinal data collection and analysis and implementation of program updates as necessary to address changing needs. 

OBJECTIVE 2.2:  Optimize the distribution and diversity of the health care workforce 


2.2.1 Prioritize areas of highest health care workforce needs through data-informed analysis and modeling. 

2.2.2 Address shortages and align the distribution of the health workforce with the highest need by facilitating and supporting the recruitment, placement, and retention of primary care and other providers in underserved communities.

2.2.3 Increase the diversity and number of underrepresented groups participating in health professions by developing and implementing strategies that facilitate and support their successful training completion, entry, and retention in the workforce.

2.2.4 Increase the capacity and availability of culturally-competent health care workers to address community-specific needs by promoting training opportunities within community-based settings for health professions students and residents.

OBJECTIVE 2.3:  Inform health care workforce policy and decision making through evidence-based assessment 


2.3.1 Anticipate the demand for the future health care and health support workforce training and distribution requirements through understanding trends, occupational forecasting, data collection and analysis, and general research.

2.3.2 Inform strategic decision-making to educate policy makers, researchers, and the public about health care workforce trends, supply, demand, and policy issues through research and evidenced-based modeling. 

2.3.3 Enhance patient safety and evidence-based guidelines by increasing awareness and promoting use of clinical decision support and patient-provider communication tools, and sharing evidence-based practices and training opportunities.

Date Last Reviewed:  May 2019