Healthcare workforce programs get $346M

In a series of grants focused on equity and access to care, the Health and Human Services and Labor departments are awarding more than $346 million to train nurses, community workers and public health professionals.

“These investments will equip community and public health workers with the skill sets needed to provide effective community outreach, increase access to care, and assist individuals with critical prevention and treatment services,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release Friday.

These latest, separate announcements from the government are part of a broader federal effort to combat staffing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Labor Department is offering $80 million through its Nursing Expansion Grant Program as a way to help organizations expand training opportunities and career pathways for nurses, the department announced Monday.

Program applicants are expected to propose training program models that center on bringing employment to marginalized communities, developing partnerships with unions and community-based organizations, and using research and evidenced-based practices to retain nurses.

Nursing Expansion Grant Program recipients will be able to use funds to train or upskill current or former nurses to become clinical and vocational nursing instructors and educators, the Labor Department. The program’s Nursing Career Pathway Track will allow organizations to help frontline healthcare professionals advance in their careers and attain the necessary credentials for middle- to high-skilled nursing occupations.

Employment opportunities for nurses are growing at a rate of 9% and healthcare employers will need a projected 275,000 new nurses to enter the workforce by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Using American Rescue Plan Act funding, the Health Resources and Services Administration announced Friday that it will award $225.5 million to 83 grantees as part of the Community Health Worker Training Program. The program will run through September 2025 and support training and apprenticeships for new community health workers.

HRSA is also awarding $40.7 million to 29 grantees through the Public Health Scholarship Program, which is meant to encourage people to pursue careers in public health. The recipients—which include local and state governments, higher education institutions and community health centers—will use the money to strengthen public health workforces, train public health workers to build trust with communities, increase support services and reduce health disparities, according to HRSA.

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