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Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development

  • Need: To address the increasing need for healthcare providers in the rural and underserved areas of Tennessee.
  • Intervention: The Tennessee Rural Partnership was created to assist in the recruitment, placement, and retention of physicians and healthcare professionals.
  • Results: As of 2016, more than 120 primary care providers have been placed in 70 rural Tennessee communities. In 2018, the entity's name changed to "Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development."


Helping to address the healthcare needs of rural Tennessee communities (91 of the state's 95 counties are considered rural) is a private, nonprofit organization now called the Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development (TCWD). Formerly known as the Tennessee Rural Partnership (TRP), the organization was established in 2006 by 4 medical schools, the Rural Health Association of Tennessee, and other rural Tennessee associations and stakeholders.

TCWD connects primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants seeking employment with underserved communities in need at no cost. It is funded through contracts with 4 medical schools that have primary care residency programs, including:

TCWD also received previous funding through a 2010-2013 Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Workforce Development grant.

Services offered

The organization matches the needs of providers with those of practice sites. Recruitment specialists build relationships with both candidates and sites to facilitate a match that will fit the needs of both.

Job opportunities through TCWD include:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Critical Access Hospitals
  • Rural Health Clinics
  • Health Departments
  • Private Practices
  • Faith-Based Clinics

A competitive stipend program provides primary care physicians with $35,000 per year for 3 to 4 years (depending upon length of residency) in exchange for serving in a rural community.

A competitive incentive program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants offers up to $25,000 for providers who complete 2 years of service in a rural practice site.

A community program enables rural practice sites to offer monetary incentives that will bring established qualified primary care physicians into areas of need.

TCWD also provides a rural rotation program for residents and physician assistant students interested in a hands-on rural experience.

Created jointly with statewide Health Occupations Student Associations (HOSA), the Tennessee Rural Partnership Star Awards (TRP STAR) provide an opportunity for high school students in health science programs to shadow a local physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner to learn more about the daily work of a rural clinician. When students have completed an 8-hour rotation, they receive a scholarship. Previously, the organization also hosts 3 annual symposiums at university-based simulation laboratories for 50+ high school students to experience hands-on learning and hear about rural practice opportunities.


  • In 2012, TCWD became an operating subsidiary of Tennessee Hospital Association, allowing for expansion in reaching Tennessee's rural and underserved areas.
  • As of 2016, more than 120 primary care providers have been placed in over 70 underserved Tennessee communities, with a vast majority of them remaining in rural locations.

To learn more about how TCWD is impacting rural communities, see the Fall 2013 National Rural Health Association Rural Roads article Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match (pages 18-19).

Refer to the TCWD News for a greater look into its widespread impact on rural, underserved communities.

Contact Information

Kristin Neal, Director of Operations
Tennessee Center For Health Workforce Development

Health occupations
Health workforce pipeline
Healthcare workforce
Nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses
Physician assistants
Recruitment and retention of health professionals

States served

Date added
November 24, 2014

Date updated or reviewed
April 28, 2018

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.