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Health Professional Shortage Area Designations

Health Professional Shortage Area & Medically Underserved Area Designations

Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) established under the U.S. Public Health Service Act are federal designations of a geographic area (usually a county or a number of townships or census tracts) that meet the criteria as needing additional primary health care services. These designations are based on the availability of health professional resources within a rational service area. Primary Care, Dental and Mental Health HPSAs also look at practitioners within a thirty-minute travel time. MUA designations consider physicians within the rational service area along with infant mortality, population over age 65 and poverty rate. Designations usually are geographic areas but may apply to population groups and facilities. The Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), US Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the designation process. The Indiana Department of Health, Primary Care Office, submits new HPSA and MUA designation applications and updates to BHW.

Federal opportunities available to Health Professional Shortage Areas include:

  • National Health Service Corps Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs
  • Rural Health Clinics
  • Medicare Incentive Payments
  • J-1 visa waiver physician

Federal opportunities available to Medically Underserved Areas/Medically Underserved Populations include:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) grants for the planning, development, or operation of community health centers under section 330 of the Public Health Service Act;
  • FQHC lookalikes which meet the definition of community health center but are not funded but receive some benefits of FQHCs
  • J-1 visa waiver physicians

For more information regarding Indiana's J-1 Visa Waiver Physician program, contact:

Natalie Morrison, MPH
J-1 Visa Consultant
Indiana Primary Health Care Association
429 N. Pennsylvania St, Suite 333 Indianapolis, IN 46204
Ph: (765) 918-4431 / Fax: (317) 630-0849

For technical assistance regarding the National Health Service Corps programs, Health Professional Shortage Areas, and the Indiana State Loan Repayment Program, contact: 

Gabby Long
Office of Primary Care Manager
Indiana Department of Health
2 N. Meridian St., 6B, Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 234-5673