HHS announces record healthcare workforce awards in rural and underserved communities

Nov. 24, 2021

The Biden-Harris Administration has awarded the largest field strength in history for its health workforce loan repayment and scholarship programs. The programs total $1.5 billion in investment, including $1 billion in supplemental American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding and other mandatory and annual appropriations.

More than 22,700 primary care clinicians now serve in the nation’s underserved tribal, rural and urban communities, including nearly 20,000 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) members, more than 2,500 Nurse Corps nurses, and approximately 250 awardees under a new program, the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) oversees these critical programs.

During the pandemic, thousands of NHSC and Nurse Corps healthcare providers have served in community health centers and hospitals across the country, caring for COVID-19 patients, supporting the mental health of their communities, administering COVID-19 tests and lifesaving treatments, and putting shots in arms.

HRSA's workforce programs aim to improve the nation's health equity by connecting skilled, committed providers with communities in need of care. National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program members work in disciplines that are urgently needed.

Currently, one-third of HRSA’s health workforce serves in a rural community where healthcare access may be especially limited or require patients to travel long distances to receive treatment.

More than half of all National Health Service Corps members serve in a community health center where patients are seen regardless of their ability to pay.

Through dedicated funding for substance use disorder (SUD) professionals, HRSA is now supporting more than 4,500 providers treating opioid and other substance use disorder (SUD) issues in hard-hit communities. The Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program was launched in FY 2021 to create loan repayment opportunities for several new disciplines that support HHS’ comprehensive response to the opioid crisis, including clinical support staff and allied health professionals.

In addition, this year’s NHSC awards include 1,500 substance use disorder (SUD) clinicians at approved treatment sites through the NHSC’s Substance Use Disorder and Rural Community loan repayment programs.

HHS press release