Health Professions Education Programs

GAO-06-55 Published: Feb 28, 2006. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 2006.
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For fiscal years 1999 through 2005, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spent about $2.7 billion to fund the more than 40 health professions education programs authorized under title VII and title VIII of the Public Health Service Act. These programs include those providing grants to institutions, direct assistance to students, and funding for health workforce analyses. Title VII includes programs related to the education of providers, such as primary care physicians. Title VIII includes programs related to nursing education. Most of these programs were last reauthorized in 1998. GAO reviewed changes in funding and in the number of these programs since 1998, HRSA's goals and assessment of the programs, and HRSA's national health professions workforce projections. GAO reviewed relevant laws and agency documents and data, and interviewed HRSA officials and representatives of health professions education associations.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Health Resources and Services Administration The Administrator of HRSA should develop a strategy and establish time frames to more regularly update and publish national workforce projections for the health professions.
Closed – Implemented
HRSA agreed with GAO's conclusion that updated workforce supply and demand projections are vital for informed decision making about health professions programs. In 2012, HRSA established timeframes for producing detailed workforce supply and demand projections for key health professions, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, during the period 2013 through 2016.

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