The Shortage Designation Project is a HRSA initiative for modernizing current shortage designation processes while maintaining transparency, accountability, and parity.

Health Professional Shortage Areas
Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are used to identify areas, population groups, and facilities within the United States that are experiencing a shortage of health professionals. HPSA designations are used as eligibility criteria for a multitude of federal programs to help target and distribute limited federal resources to the highest need areas.

The Shortage Designation Project
HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce has begun modernizing the shortage designation process through development and implementation of the Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS). State Primary Care Offices (PCOs) use SDMS to submit designation applications and HRSA Project Officers use the system to process and review them.

  • In July 2017, HRSA will update all HPSA designations using standardized and PCO-provided data.
  • Prior to the July 2017 update, HRSA will process Auto-HPSA scoring requests following current procedures.

Impact Analysis
In preparation for the July 2017 National Designation Update, the Shortage Designation Project Team is running the first full-scale Impact Analysis, a preliminary “dry run” that will help HRSA and PCOs evaluate how the standardized data sets in SDMS may affect HPSA designations and scores. The Impact Analysis will include all HPSAs, including Auto-HPSAs. Results of the Impact Analysis are for informational purposes only and will not be published or used to make program decisions. HRSA will release results of the Impact Analysis to State Primary Care Offices in January 2017.

The work of PCOs has been instrumental in making the Impact Analysis a useful tool for helping stakeholders plan for the July 2017 update.

We’re All in This Together
Input from stakeholders is vital to the Shortage Designation Project. By working closely with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, membership organizations like NOSORH, NARHC, NRHA, and a host of others, HRSA is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure that stakeholder concerns are addressed proactively.

Transparency, Accountability, and Parity
HRSA remains dedicated to an open dialogue regarding their approach to proposed Auto-HPSA process improvements, the results of the Impact Analysis, and the timing of the Shortage Designation Project. To ensure an open exchange of ideas, HRSA is convening an Ad Hoc Auto-HPSA Working Group beginning in November with RHC, IHS, PCO, PCA, CHC, and other representatives.

Questions? Contact the Shortage Designation Project Team at

Article submitted by the Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration

Back to November Branch