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What’s A Teaching Health Center?

Teaching Health Centers are the solution to the crisis facing primary care in the United States. Across the nation, fewer and fewer medical school graduates are pursuing careers in primary care – just as many working primary care providers are planning to retire. Teaching Health Centers aim to ensure a viable primary care workforce for low-income communities by providing training at federally qualified health centers and similar sites. Research shows that residents who train in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are more likely to practice in medically underserved areas – and to feel more prepared to do so. According to the University of Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies, over three-quarters of the primary care physicians now practicing in high-need New York State communities completed their residency training within the state – a trend the Institute ‘s programs strive to accelerate.

Many Teaching Health Centers, like the Institute, receive federal funding to support their activities through HRSA’s Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (GME) program, a $230 million, 5-year initiative created by the Affordable Care Act to increase the number of primary care residents and dentists trained in community-based settings. According to HRSA, “the Teaching Health Center GME program is instrumental in increasing access to health care services for people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable.” This funding source is essential for the continuation of many Teaching Health Centers programs, and is up for renewal by Congress in 2015.