LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received an additional $4.75 million in federal grant money to continue efforts to improve health care in rural Arkansas through training and retaining primary care physicians.

The supplemental award from the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, comes in the third year of a four-year medical student education grant.

UAMS initially received $4.6 million in 2019, followed by an additional $2.83 million in 2020, to fund a multipronged approach to enhancing medical student education at UAMS as part of the Arkansas Medical Education Primary Care Partnerships project.

The project aims to recruit and retain medical students from rural and underserved areas of Arkansas in the hopes that they return to practice in those areas.

It also aims to create more opportunities for students to practice primary care in those areas through service projects and mentoring; to increase the number of rural clinical rotation sites; to provide training and development opportunities for new faculty at those sites; and to strengthen partnerships with the Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Arkansas Rural Health Partnership and historically black colleges and universities – the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Philander Smith College in Little Rock.

“This continued funding allows us to make further progress in addressing the physician shortage in Arkansas, particularly in rural areas, as part of our mission to improve the health of all Arkansans,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, UAMS chancellor and CEO of UAMS Health.

The number of available physicians per population in Arkansas is among the lowest in the nation, a fact that Patterson said has been highlighted by the pandemic – particularly the delta variant that hit Arkansas hard.