By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 5, 2010; 3:13 PM
The Obama administration awarded $159.1 million in grants Thursday to educational programs that train nurses and geriatric specialists as well as those that recruit and support students from minority groups that are underrepresented in those fields.
The grants, which include new and continuing funding, build on multimillion dollar investments called for under the new health-care overhaul law in order to address a growing shortage of primary care workers.
A 2008 report by the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply said schools would need to produce 30,000 nurses annually to offset the shortfall and the looming mass retirement of nurses, 45 percent of whom are 50 or older.
In a statement announcing the grants, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said they will be used in a variety of ways, including offsetting students' tuition and other expenses, developing of curricula, training faculty and funding research.
Many Washington area universities were among the recipients, including Howard University, which received the largest single grant locally: more than $1 million for a "Center for Excellence" program designed to increase minority participation in the profession as well as to better serve minority patients.