Spokane, Wash. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Carole Johnson yesterday visited the Spokane Teaching Health Center where they held a roundtable on the importance of the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program.
The THCGME program is responsible for bringing health care providers to communities that need them most by training directly in the community. The program focuses on building medical residency programs in community-based settings, while placing an emphasis on rural and underserved areas to allow residents to train in community clinics and the places they are most likely to practice.
“Health care facilities are facing devastating workforce shortages coming out of the pandemic. The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program provides the perfect opportunity to bridge that gap and bring more doctors to Eastern Washington,” said Rodgers. “We know that doctors are more likely to stay and practice near where they do their residency, which is why we must support this innovative solution to meet the needs of rural and underserved communities with a new generation of primary care providers. I continue to be inspired by the example Spokane Teaching Health Center is setting, and I look forward to working in Congress to provide them – and THCs across the country – with the funding and certainty they need to be successful for years to come.”
The Spokane Teaching Health Center is one of 72 teaching health centers funded by HRSA. The THCGME program supports community-based primary care medical and dental residency programs. Since the THCGME program began, more than 1,700 new primary care physicians and dentists have completed residency through the program. The Teaching Health Center GME program funding is up for renewal in fiscal year 2024.
“Health care workforce needs are a top priority in communities across the country, and HRSA’s Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program is a key partner in helping communities like Eastern Washington grow the number of providers,” said Johnson. “Through this creative model, HRSA has been able to support the training of more than 50 primary care residents at the Spokane Teaching Health Center, including 18 current residents in training. We look forward to continuing our work with Chair McMorris Rodgers on innovative workforce models like the teaching health center program.”
The Spokane Teaching Health Center trains medical residents to provide a full spectrum of primary care to people in Eastern Washington. The health center has received nearly $21 million in THCGME funding since 2014 for its Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency programs, supporting over 50 primary care residents. The program currently supports 18 THCGME physician residents.
“We were pleased to host Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and Administrator Johnson at the Spokane Teaching Health Center today. They heard, first hand, from residents who provide direct care for some of the vulnerable and underserved residents in our community, about the need for continuation of funding for this critical workforce development program,” said Traci Couture Richmond, Executive Director of the Spokane Teaching Health Center. “The stories they heard today are not unique to Spokane, but could be echoed throughout the other teaching health centers in the country. We hope that today’s visit prompts the necessary action in Congress to reauthorize this program.”
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