LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A recent grant to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is targeted to provide health care career opportunities.

The $3.25 million four-year grant will fund the Arkansas Delta Health Care Opportunities program, targeting 20 counties in the Delta and south Arkansas. The program is designed for members of underserved communities to learn and then work in health care professions in their communities.

The program will take place in the following counties: Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Cleveland, Columbia, Crittenden, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Jefferson, Lee, Lincoln, Monroe, Ouachita, Phillips, Sevier, St. Francis and Union.

The intent is for the program to improve overall health in the state by strengthening the health care workforce through closing existing gaps, according to UAMS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion vice chancellor Brian Grittens.

“Students in the Delta face numerous academic and socioeconomic challenges that serve as barriers to their success,” he said. “We want to break down these barriers and create the opportunity to fill areas of need in the health care field.”

Programs will focus on expanding the workforce in a variety of health care disciplines, including sonography, dietetics, health administration, medical lab technology, mental and behavioral health, occupational and physical therapy, physician assistant studies, public health, radiography and respiratory therapy.

The HCOP Academy will be led by the UAMS Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in collaboration with UAMS Regional Campuses. Partners in the project include the UAMS College of Health Professions, the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership and a consortium of community-based rural hospitals, joining with high schools, colleges and universities in the 20 counties.

The grant was awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.