Primary Healthcare Centers announces the forming of a partnership designed to increase the number of healthcare providers working in rural areas.  The partnership, which also includes the Georgia Campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) Georgia Association for Primary Healthcare and lead agency Georgia Mountains Health, will pilot a Health Workforce Development program over the next three years in rural north Georgia.  The partnership received one of twenty grants funded from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) and is the only network funded in Georgia.  In announcing the Grant Award, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that the long range objective of this project is to increase access to health care for Americans living in rural areas.  The Rural Health Workforce Development Program supports the development of rural health networks that seek to improve the recruitment and retention of health professionals (primary and allied health care students and residents) in rural communities.  It will promote a range of approaches to community-based training and can include a singular or collective focus on professions such as medicine, oral health, mental/behavioral health, nursing, pharmacy and other allied health professions.“The grants will strengthen partnerships among rural health providers,” said HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield Ph.D., R.N.  “Funds will be used to recruit and retain rural health care professionals and modernize the health care infrastructure in rural areas.”The North Georgia Rural Health Workforce Partnership will formalize clinical rotations of medical students from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to rural health centers operated by Primary Healthcare Centers and Georgia Mountains Health.  Students will learn and experience the critical role health care professionals’ play in the health, life, and economy of rural areas. Diana Allen, Primary Healthcare Centers CEO, stated “We are thrilled and honored to be a part of this very important rural workforce development project in Georgia.  Recruitment and Retention of health care providers is an ongoing challenge for community health centers in Georgia, and across the country.  We believe this is a significant first step in provider training in rural communities in north Georgia and that, once these providers spend time at our community health centers and in our communities and learn all the advantages of living and working in a rural area, they will want to return.”