University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Carolina team receives $5 million federal award, boosting health workforce funding to nearly $13 million

The Carolina-led national consortium has received a new $5 million award from the Health Resources and Service Administration’s Bureau of Health Workforce to facilitate the development of training programs for physicians and dentists in underserved areas.

The new funding is in addition to $4.3 million awarded in August 2021 and $3.6 million awarded from 2018 through 2020 from the Health Resources and Service Administration Federal Office of Rural Health Policy for the Rural GME Center. UNC School of Medicine Executive Dean Dr. Cristy Page, founded the Rural GME Center, a national consortium of experts in medical education, health workforce and rural health policy, in 2018 during her tenure as Chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Emily Hawes, an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, helps direct the national consortium and serves as co-principal investigator.

Page; Hawes; Erin Fraher, associate professor of family medicine and director of the Carolina Health Workforce Research Center; Dr. Mark Holmes of The Cecil G. Sheps Center; and Dr. Adam Zolotor of NC AHEC work in collaboration with the HRSA Office of Rural Health Policy and Bureau of Health Workforce to implement these cooperative efforts. The consortium also includes the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin and the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, among other community and academic partners across the country.

The consortium has produced extensive research on rural and underserved health workforce development, which has resulted in new policies that support increased access to rural and underserved care. In partnership with HRSA, they have directly supported the development of 283 new rural training positions accredited in the last 2 years, spanning internal medicine, family medicine, general surgery and psychiatry and worked to create the next generation of rural health leaders.

The new award reflects the continued successful partnership with the Health Resources and Service Administration, as well as the positive results generated by the Rural GME Center. Moving forward, Page and team will expand their existing rural efforts to additional underserved communities in partnership with community health centers across the nation. The team will support 47 new teaching health center programs in the specialties of family medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, internal medicine, general dentistry and pediatric dentistry.

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