HHS Awards $96M to Train Healthcare Providers

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nursesHuman and Health Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week announced the awarding of $96 million in grants to increase diversity in the healthcare field and encourage nurses to become nurse educators.

The grants will fund scholarships that schools give to students from disadvantaged backgrounds with financial need. Funds will also provide low-interest loans to those who want to teach nursing as incentive to become nurse educators.

Of these funds, $27 million is part of the $200 million appropriated to HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to build the nation’s healthcare workforce.

“The health professions workforce in the United States does not reflect the population it serves,” Sebelius said. “These funds will help support the education of disadvantaged students who are more likely to go on to serve in underserved areas, and will expand the training of nurse faculty in exchange for their service.”

Of the total funding, $66 million will be used to provide scholarships to 28,000 disadvantaged students under the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program. The funds include $45.7 million in FY 2010 appropriations for 308 grants to 605 health professions programs at colleges and universities; and $20.5 million in Recovery Act funds for 273 grants to 513 programs at colleges and universities.

“A critical part of HRSA’s mission is to help make sure that we have the right kinds of healthcare professionals serving in the right places – places where they can do the most good for the most people,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield. “With this new infusion of funds, we will be able to increase training opportunities for a future generation of healthcare professionals.”

Under the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, 165 grantees will receive $30 million to support nursing student loans for master and doctoral degree nurses who will then become faculty at nursing schools across the country. In exchange for teaching at a nursing school, students are eligible for an 85 percent loan cancellation during their first four years of employment.

The funds awarded last week will support the training of 850 nursing students and include $23.5 million in FY 2010 appropriations for 114 grants; and $6.6 million in Recovery Act funds for 51 grants.

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