New grants totaling $159.1 million were announced recently by the Obama administration with the goal of training nurses and geriatric specialists. The grants also seek to recruit students from minority groups whose presence in geriatrics is under-represented. The grants contain new and continuing funding and are designed to build on multimillion dollar investments provided for in the healthcare reform law. The goal is to address a shorting of primary-care workers, especially acure as the population ages.
According to a 2008 report by the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply, schools need to graduate 30,000 nurses every year to make up for a coming mass retirement. Currently, 45 percent of nurses are 50 or older. Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, said the grants will be used in several ways, including offsetting students’ tuition and other expenses, creating curricula, training teachers and funding research.
Washington, D.C., universities – such as Howard University – were among the recipients. Howard received the single largest grant in the nation’s capital at more than $1 million for a “Center of Excellence” program that will increase minority participation in the healthcare profession and to better serve minority patients.