PA Hospital Rural Residency Program Receives Federal Recognition, Grant Funding
July 18, 2019
A new program to address rural Pennsylvania workforce shortages was recognized by state and federal officials today. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) participated in an event that announced a grant to fund a new rural residency program in the commonwealth.
The Rural Residency Planning and Development Program (RRPD) is a multiyear effort to address rural workforce shortages and improve access to care in rural regions of the state. HRSA will award up to $750,000 to 21 states—$20 million total—to fund rural residency programs.
Rural patients tend to be older and have more complex and co-occurring conditions, and issues like geography, transportation, and limited broadband connectivity can make it more difficult for providers to deliver consistent primary and specialty care. Additionally, officials from LVHN underscored the workforce challenges of caring for rural communities: physicians often practice where they receive their medical residency training, so encouraging them to train in rural areas can help address future shortages.
A 2015 Joint State Government Commission report projected that Pennsylvania will face a deficit of more than 1,000 primary care physicians by 2030. Rural areas are particularly vulnerable to losing providers given the disproportionate burden they face relative to statewide shortages. Rural residency programs offer an opportunity to address those shortages, and build awareness and understanding about the unique health needs of the area’s families.
HAP continues to work with state and federal policymakers to address barriers to care in communities across Pennsylvania, so that providers can help patients get and stay healthy—and stay out of the hospital altogether. HAP’s rural policy agenda includes:
HAP applauds the efforts of hospitals across the commonwealth, as they implement innovative and collaborative solutions to adapt to the changing health care landscape, especially in rural areas.
For more information, contact Jeff Bechtel, HAP’s senior vice president, health economics and policy, Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Kate Slatt, HAP’s senior director, innovative payment and care delivery.