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HRSA funding to strengthen current, future public health workforce in Kentucky

Three Kentucky state universities jointly received a $1.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to grow and diversify the public health workforce through the Public Health Scholarship Program (PHSP).

UofL SPHIS is collaborating with the UK College of Public Health and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) to attract aspiring public health professionals, retain current students and engage public health professionals in a range of educational, training and experiential learning opportunities. They join 28 other grantee organizations in the $40.7 million HRSA initiative, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We are excited to partner with HRSA on this initiative to increase capacity and invest in our current and future workforce, working alongside Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville,” said Janie Cambron, associate dean for practice and workforce development in the UK College of Public Health and principal investigator for this grant.

With funding allocated to HRSA by the American Rescue Plan, the PHSP aims to incentivize individuals to pursue training and careers in public health, including positions critical to community public health needs. Kentucky’s program is designed to strengthen workforce capacity and reduce public health inequities, and will focus on identifying community-level influencers, leaders and strategists who look like and have shared life experiences with those who they serve.

Learn about UofL's application process. Applications are due by March 27, 2023.

According to the results of the most recent Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs (PHWins) Survey, the public health workforce primarily self-identifies as white (54%), female (79%), and 40 years of age or older (63%). Kentucky data mirror this nationwide trend, Cambron said.

Tammi Thomas, associate dean of student affairs, public health practice and undergraduate education at the UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences, and grant co-investigator, noted, “Having a more diverse and representative workforce can better serve diverse communities because of cultural, environmental and other considerations. A diverse workforce is better positioned to address health disparities. However, most employees at federal, state and local health departments are non-Hispanic White.”

Scholarships from the program cover educational expenses at UofL, UK, and EKU. Those eligible to apply for the program include current public health students, aspiring public health students and professionals working in the public health sector, such as local health department employees.

“The public health system is very broad and all encompassing,” Cambron said. “Public health touches everyone, everywhere, every day. We want to attract more people to a career in public health as well as continue to invest in our current workforce and ensure they are supported, have adequate training and resources to pursue further education without a huge financial burden.”

More information, including how to apply for future funding, can be found at these links for each university:

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,484,555 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

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