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Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are federal designations that apply to areas, population groups, or facilities in which there are unmet health care needs. Designations help prioritize limited federal resources to the areas that need them the most. The criteria and guidelines for HPSA designations are determined by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HPSA designations are broken down into four different types of designations listed below and three different disciplines including primary care, dental health, and mental health.

HPSAs may be designated as having a shortage of:​

There are four types of HPSA designations:​

  • Geographic: This designation indicates a shortage of providers for the population within a defined geographic area​​.
     
  • Population: This designation indicates that a subpopulation of individuals living in a define geographic has insufficient access to care. Population groups include those considered to be low-income (at or below 200% of federal poverty level), groups on Medicaid, migrant farm workers, tribal, or homeless populations, among others.​
    • North Dakota does have few low-income population designations​.
       
  • Facility:  This designation indicates that a specific facility has a shortage of providers, they serve as a saftey-net facility, and/or serve populations that are considered underserved.​
    • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)​
    • National Health Service Corps (NHSC) certified Rural Health Clinics (RHC)​
    • Federal Indian Health Service Clinics and Tribal Health Units (ITUs)​
    • FQHC Look-a-Likes​
    • Correctional Facilities​
    • State/County Mental Health Hospital​
    • Other facilities​
       
  •  Automatic HPSA: Certain types of facilities receive an automatic HPSA (Auto-HPSA) designation from HRSA.