Healthcare Workforce Gets an Infusion of Grant Money

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On Thursday, Health and Human Services (or, HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that $55.5 million in grants was awarded during fiscal year 2013. A majority of the awards ($45.4 million) will be given to nursing programs, to be invested in strengthening the nursing workforce.

In the announcement, Sebelius stated why the funding had been made available. “These grants and the many training programs they support have a real impact by helping to create innovative care delivery models and improving access to high-quality care.” The grants will be managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (or, HRSA) of HHS. HRSA was created in 1982, following a merger of the Health Resources Administration and the Health Services Administration. The primary function of the department is improving access to primary care in the U.S.

HRSA’s role expanded under the Affordable Care Act. It its fiscal year 2013 budget justification, the Administrator, Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N, wrote “HRSA now has an even broader role, and an even bigger mandate.” She defined three broad areas that generally encompass the 50 provisions in the law HRSA is responsible for. HRSA is expected to enlarge the primary care safety net, particularly in underdeveloped and underserved areas; train future generations of primary care providers to practice patient-centered care; and increase preventative care methods.

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