Health Professional Shortage Areas

Download "Health Professional Shortage Areas" as a PDF here


What is a HPSA?

  • HPSAs are a rating system used to determine the highest areas of need for health care providers.
  • HPSAs are federal designations determined through data submitted by a state’s Primary Care Office (PCO). There is one PCO in every state. You can find a list of all the PCOs here:
  • HPSAs are designated using a scoring system. A ‘HPSA score’ is a number that can change over time and ranges from 1-25 for primary care and mental health HPSAs and 1-26 for dental HPSAs. The higher the HPSA score, the greater the need.

To learn more about HPSAs

How can you find out if a facility is a designated HPSA?

  • HRSA has a HPSA designation search tool that can be found here: or here:

Types of HPSAs

  • HPSA scores can be calculated using three different methodologies:
    • Low income
    • Physician to population ratio
    • Geographic
  • There are three different types of HPSAs:
    • Mental Health
    • Dental
    • Primary Care
  • Knowing a HPSA score can provide some context about a facility. For example, a geographic HPSA could be designated because of distance between one facility and another. Conversely, a low income HPSA can occur in an urban, highly populated area or a rural, lower populated area. These examples are not exclusive scenarios for these HPSA designations.

What should you, a health care professional, know about HPSAs?

  • Many loan repayment and scholarship programs use HPSAs to determine areas eligible for service. One example of this is the National Health Service Corps.
  • All Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are automatically designated as a HPSA, although their individual HPSA scores may vary. Not all FQHC – Look-a-likes are necessarily designated as HPSAs.
  • HPSA scores can change!
  • Know who your PCO contact is: