The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received $2.83 million in additional funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to train and retain primary care physicians in rural Arkansas.
The award is for fiscal year 2021, which began in July. Previously, the program had been awarded $4.6 million spread over four years beginning in fiscal year 2020.
The Arkansas Medical Education Primary Care Partnerships project aims to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in rural areas and other medically underserved parts of the state. It also includes specific efforts to create pipelines to medical education for minority students. The grant comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The project is a partnership among the UAMS College of Medicine, UAMS Regional Campuses across the state, and the UAMS Department of Family & Preventive Medicine. The effort to increase medical education for minority students is a partnership between UAMS, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Philander Smith College.
“The number of available physicians per population in the Natural State is among the lowest in the nation and providers of all specialties are facing a serious shortfall, especially in Arkansas’ rural communities,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Our current public health emergency puts an emphasis on the need to overcome this shortage. The funds from this award will help more UAMS students prepare for residencies in Arkansas, keeping more top talent in our state and helping to close the gap on the doctor shortage in Arkansas.”
Over 500,000 Arkansans — over one-sixth of its population — live in an area defined by the federal government as lacking the adequate number of health professionals to serve the population. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 50 out of 75 counties in the state fully or partially meet that definition.
“At UAMS, it’s part of our mission to improve the health of all Arkansans, and one way we are working to meet that goal is by recruiting and training a diverse group of future health care professionals from across the state,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “It’s a big job that we cannot do alone, making programs like these built on community partnerships all the more important. Together, we are ensuring a healthier future by laying the groundwork today.”
The program addresses the issue of physician shortages from several angles, including strengthening the pipeline for students interested in health care careers by supporting them at each stage of their education through a series of programs. This specifically targets students from rural and underserved areas of the state.
The program also creates more opportunities for medical students to experience primary care practice in rural and underserved communities across Arkansas through service projects, mentoring, and a new Honors Program in Rural and Urban Underserved Primary Care.