COVID-19 and the Rural Health Workforce: The Impact of Federal Pandemic Funding to Address Workforce Needs

Authors: Natalia Oster, PhD, MPH | Davis Patterson, PhD | Susan Skillman, MS | Bianca Frogner, PhD

Topics: COVID-19, Rural Health

Research Center: University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies

April 6, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified long-standing workforce issues and further weakened the financial position of many rural health facilities as they have attempted to mobilize their workforce while struggling to absorb the added costs of patient care and invest in the additional resources needed for pandemic response. The federal government has addressed some of these issues through pandemic funding support and economic relief packages.

This policy brief describes workforce challenges faced by rural health care delivery systems and how pre-pandemic financial instability in rural health care facilities may have contributed to the challenges experienced by the rural health workforce during the pandemic. Available federal pandemic funding to address rural health workforce needs is also discussed, as well as the long-term needs of the rural health workforce and delivery system.

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University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies