Bayhealth and Beebe Healthcare each received $750,000 in federal grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop rural residency programs.

HRSA awarded approximately $20 million in Rural Residency Planning and Development Program grants to recipients across 21 states. The two health systems were among 27 nationwide that will receive up to $750,000 over a three-year period to develop new rural residency programs while achieving accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

“We are extremely grateful for, and excited about the opportunities this funding provides for our state,” said Division of Public Health Director Karyl Rattay. “As demonstrated in Kent and Sussex counties, rural communities are more likely to have a shortage of health professionals. However, clinicians who train in rural settings are more likely to continue to practice there after they complete their residencies. This grant award will help us enhance the pool of long-term practicing physicians.”

The Rural Residency Planning and Development Program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and Bureau of Health Workforce, is part of a multiyear initiative by HRSA to expand the physician workforce in rural areas by developing new, sustainable residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry. Rural residency programs often face challenges in securing sustainable financing and faculty support. The RRPD grant award funding will help recipients address these challenges.

Both Beebe and Bayhealth have chosen to focus on family medicine in their residency programs. The Bayhealth program will include six residents per year and the Beebe program will include four residents per year.

Kent County — 2,069 patients per primary care physician — and Sussex County — 2,014 patients per physician — are above the 2,000-to-one ratio used by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to designate shortage areas.

To review a complete list of all grant recipients, visit bit.ly/2Plt2wZ.

For more about rural health policy issues, visit bit.ly/2Plto6N.