Unprecedented new funding will expand and diversify the country’s healthcare workforce, address workforce shortages, and support more than 22,700 healthcare providers committed to working in underserved communities, according to a statement from the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the $1.5 billion investment into the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs in November 2021.

The White House says more than 23.6 million patients in the United States receive care from National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps clinicians, and the awarded programs address workforce shortages and health disparities by “providing scholarship and loan repayment funding for healthcare students and professionals, in exchange for a service commitment in hard-hit and high-risk communities.”

Only about 7% of physicians in the United States identify as Black or Hispanic/Latino, but more than 25% of physicians serving through the National Health Service Corps identify as Black or Hispanic/Latino. “The mobilization of these providers is a critical step toward addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes and expanding the representation of these communities in healthcare professions,” the White House said.

The funding is also being used to combat student debt associated with graduate health education for new nurses and other healthcare professionals. According to the White House, the investment earmarks $330 million of the American Rescue Plan funding for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program to support expansion of care.

“This additional funding will further support the expansion of the primary care physician and dental workforce residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine-pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, general dentistry, pediatric dentistry, or geriatrics,” the White House said.