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Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)

What is a health professional shortage area (HPSA)?

A health professional shortage area (HPSA) is a population, facility or geographic region with an insufficient number of healthcare providers. This includes mental, primary and dental providers.  

There are three types of HPSAs: 

  • Population HPSAs refer to populations of people that have a shortage of providers.  
  • Facility HPSAs are facilities that serve populations of people with a lack of providers.  
  • Geographic HPSAs are groups of people within a geographic region with a shortage of providers.  

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) automatically qualify as HPSAs. 

Why is determining health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) important to healthcare?

Determining health professional shortage areas is important because it identifies the populations, facilities and geographic regions that are not receiving adequate care because of a lack of healthcare providers. Locating HPSAs then helps indicate where federal programs can dedicate programs and funds to improve access to quality healthcare.