Quick Takes

$16 million federal grant aimed at easing Kentucky’s shortage of primary medical care providers

By: - October 11, 2023 10:05 am

The University of Louisville plans to use the grant to “attract and train medical students with an interest in practicing primary care in medically underserved communities. (Getty Images)

The University of Louisville School of Medicine plans to use a $16 million federal grant to help funnel more primary care providers into Kentucky’s underserved communities, it announced Monday. 

The four-year grant comes from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The university plans to use it to “attract and train medical students with an interest in practicing primary care in medically underserved communities,” it said. 

The school of medicine says it will “enhance existing programs that train students in the underserved rural environments, assist individuals from other careers who want to prepare for medical school, create a new program to train medical students in an urban environment and provide scholarships to support students financially in all of these programs.” 

With the grant, the university plans to bolster its Trover Rural Track, a Madisonville-based campus for third and fourth year medical students. There, students learn in a rural setting. UofL says that of its 170 physicians who have graduated from the Trover Rural Track, 75% practice primary care and 43% practice in rural communities.

The money will also go toward creating a training program, similar to Trover, in West Louisville and other similar underserved areas. Finally, the grant will help the university boost its postbaccalaureate premedical program, which is a pre-med program for students who completed their undergraduate degree in another field. 

“A lot of the postbaccalaureate premedical students have come from underserved populations or underserved areas, including rural areas,” V. Faye Jones, UofL Health Sciences Center associate vice president for health affairs and diversity initiatives, said in a statement. “Having more folks from rural areas and underserved communities going into medicine is a great thing for Kentucky.” 

This money comes as much of Kentucky suffers from a lack of primary care providers. The Kentucky Primary Care Association said in 2022 that 94% of the state’s 120 counties don’t have enough primary care providers, the Lantern previously reported

The legislature took steps in 2023 to address that, including passing a law that gave advanced practice registered nurses more prescriptive authority. The goal of that law is to expand access to primary care in the commonwealth. 

“Students tend to practice what they are taught and where they learn it,” Kelli Bullard Dunn, vice dean of community engagement and diversity for the UofL School of Medicine, said in a statement. With the grant initiatives: “Our idea is to enhance our training programs with a focus on improving their educational experience in primary care, particularly in underserved communities.” 

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.

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