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In his letter, Durbin points to the billion dollars in National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps scholarships and loan repayments available to promote health workforce diversity and address provider shortages.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter this week to health care providers, clinics and hospitals in Illinois, as well as medical schools, colleges and universities. nurses and dentistry, urging them to make public the availability of a historic $1 billion in National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps scholarship and loan repayment funding for healthcare workers. The funding, which Durbin helped secure, was set aside in the US rescue plan to address health worker shortages in underserved areas and address health disparities by recruiting health workers from communities of color. Scholarship funding and loan repayment is available for physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, dentists, and behavioral health professionals who commit to serve in a field in need .
“US bailout funding for the NHSC and Nurse Corps represents the largest annual appropriation for our clinical healthcare workforce in history, as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for these two critical programs. The combined $1 billion for NHSC and Nurse Corps programs promises to shape the healthcare provider pipeline to focus on recruiting people from historically underrepresented populations, including communities of color and backgrounds. urban or rural underprivileged, Durbin wrote.
Since March 2020, the unimaginable stress and exhaustion of healthcare workers has exacerbated strains on the workforce and driven many providers off the field. A significant barrier to meeting our nation’s health workforce needs is the student debt associated with graduate health education, which can average over $200,000.
COVID-19 has also amplified alarming racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes, which can be partially addressed by expanding the representation of minority populations working in health careers. In 2019, only 6.4% of American doctors identified as black or Latinx, although black and Latinx Americans make up 31% of the country’s total population.
“In the first year under the US bailout, HRSA was able to award nearly 1,200 new NHSC scholarships, a fourfold increase, and nearly doubled the number of Nurse Corps scholarships to 544. This boosted the field strength of the NHSC and Nurse Corps to the highest level ever – with over 22,000 HRSA-funded healthcare providers, including Hispanic/Latino physicians representing 18% of NHSC participants and black/African American nurses representing 20% of Nurse Corps participants,” Durbin continued. “It is important to note that significant additional U.S. bailout funds remain available in fiscal year 2022 to support the demands of Illinois health care providers and students.”
The United States is expected to face a shortage of up to 120,000 doctors over the next decade and a need for about 200,000 new nurses in each of the next few years. In these areas, there are significant shortages in urban and rural communities as well as among specialties, including in primary care and behavioral health. COVID-19 has upended that equation, with providers being called back into service after retirement, fourth-year medical students graduating early, and medical professionals traveling across state lines to provide care.
Letter recipients included Illinois Health and Hospital Association, Illinois Primary Health Care Association, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, Illinois State Medical Society, Chicago Medical Society, the Illinois Dental Society, Illinois School-Based Health Alliance, Illinois Rural Medical Education Program, and Illinois Chapters/Members of the American Association of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, National Association of Social Workers, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Physician Assistant Training Association, National Medical Association, National Student Medical Association and National Hispanic Medical Association.
The full text of the letter is available here and below:
January 19, 2022
Dear Illinois Healthcare Partners:
Thank you for your tremendous efforts over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic to address health care challenges across our state, especially for our most vulnerable and underserved communities. As you may know, the US Bailout Act of 2021 (PL 117-2), provides a combined additional $1 billion for National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps programs through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). As the author of these provisions, I write to highlight this availability of funding to ensure that Illinois healthcare stakeholders maximize this opportunity to help address healthcare workforce shortages and disparities. health matter.
The NHSC and Nurse Corps programs provide scholarship and loan repayment options to qualified medical, dental and behavioral care clinicians – including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists and healthcare providers. behavioral health – in exchange for providing care at a qualified site in an urban or rural area with a shortage of providers. These scholarships and loan repayment bursaries supplement existing salaries/contracts, to inspire our brightest minds to serve in needy areas that might otherwise be drawn into more lucrative avenues in order to pay off their student loan debt.
Since March 2020, strains on the workforce have been a major challenge for healthcare institutions – clinicians have been called upon to retire or from other jurisdictions, and students have been graduating early to enter the domain. At the same time, healthcare workers faced unimaginable levels of stress and burnout, pushing many providers to leave the field early. However, these workforce gaps existed long before COVID-19, with estimates suggesting that more than 30,000 additional practitioners are needed to address shortages of primary care, dental and nursing professionals. mental health in regions that are home to more than 60 million Americans.
The pandemic has also exacerbated unconscionable racial and ethnic disparities in health, especially as seen in COVID-19-related death rates. One of the factors contributing to the inequalities that explain why communities of color too often live sicker and die younger is the lack of diversity in health professions. While blacks and Latinos make up more than 30% of the US population, they make up less than 11% of the national physician workforce. Studies show that greater representation of people of color among healthcare providers can improve health outcomes by promoting trust, communication and more preventative screenings.
As of September 2020, more than 800 trained professionals are providing care in urban and rural areas of Illinois through the NHSC and Nurse Corps, whether in a hospital, community health center, health clinic rural, school clinic, health service or other site. Yet while thousands of qualified applicants apply for these scholarship and loan repayment programs each year, traditionally only a fraction can be funded. For example, in FY19, only 11% of NHSC scholarship applicants and 45% of loan repayment applicants were funded.
the US rescue planThe NHSC and Nurse Corps funding represents the largest annual appropriation for our clinical health workforce in history, as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for these two essential programs. The combined $1 billion for NHSC and Nurse Corps programs promises to shape the healthcare provider pipeline to focus on recruiting people from historically underrepresented populations, including communities of color and backgrounds. urban or rural disadvantaged.
During the first year under the US rescue planHRSA was able to award nearly 1,200 new NHSC scholarships, four times as many, and nearly doubled the number of Nurse Corps scholarships to 544. This bolstered the field strength of NHSC and Nurse Corps at highest level ever, with over 22,000 HRSA-funded healthcare providers, including Hispanic/Latino physicians representing 18% of NHSC participants and Black/African American nurses representing 20% of corps participants nurses.
It is important to note that significant additional funds from the US rescue plan remain available in fiscal year 2022 to support requests from Illinois healthcare providers and students. I would like to draw your attention to the following deadlines and informational links, which I encourage you to distribute widely to your members throughout our state:
I greatly appreciate your commitment to our current and future workforce, and the patients and communities they serve. The pandemic has highlighted the long-term challenges in our health care delivery system, and I hope this significant new funding and focus on recruiting a diverse workforce can help begin to fill the gaps and promote equity. Please contact my staff with any questions regarding these HRSA funding opportunities.