PA Education Policy 101: Clinical Site Investments 

As the number of accredited PA programs continues to rise, a top concern of many faculty members is ongoing challenges in securing clinical rotations for students. In response to this long-standing issue, PAEA’s Government Relations team has made advocating for increased investment in clinical education capacity a top priority. The final installment of the PA Education Policy 101 series focuses on the array of federal and state programs that are available to help programs develop clinical sites and preceptors – many with the ultimate goal of influencing graduates’ practice choices.  

Primary Care Training and Enhancement Grants 

In response to a long-standing primary care workforce shortage, the largest investment in clinical sites for PA education is Primary Care Training and Enhancement (PCTE) grants. PCTE grants provide PA programs, medical schools, and physician residency programs with resources to invest in didactic and clinical training designed to increase the number of graduates choosing careers in primary care.  

By law, PA programs must receive at least 15 percent of funding appropriated for PCTE grants each fiscal year. To meet this requirement, HRSA has developed several funding competitions limited exclusively to programs, such as the PCTE – Physician Assistant program and the PCTE – Physician Assistant Rural Training program. In addition to these exclusive offerings, programs have also recently been eligible for interprofessional competitions such as the PCTE – Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care program and the PCTE – Language and Disability Access program.  

Members interested in PCTE funding opportunities should note that HRSA has forecasted the release of a new funding opportunity – the PCTE – Physician Assistant Rural Training in Behavioral Health competition for anticipated release in late October. This offering, as well as any future competitions, will be shared via PAEA’s communications channels once announced. 

Area Health Education Centers 

In addition to direct grant support, programs also have the option to collaborate with Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) to secure clinical training sites. Using federal resources, AHECs are responsible for developing clinical partnerships between health professions programs and community-based sites with the goal of increasing the number of graduates opting to practice in underserved communities.

In addition to this goal, AHECs also offer continuing medical education activities for practicing faculty and assist programs with recruitment and pipeline development efforts. To connect with these resources, programs can locate their closest AHEC via this HRSA-supported directory

State Tax Incentive Programs 

Beyond federal resources, programs may also have the opportunity to leverage state-based options to secure clinical placements. To respond to the issue of workforce shortages, many states have instituted tax incentives for clinical preceptors. In July, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed new legislation establishing a tax credit of $425-500 per rotation for preceptors of health professions students within the state, joining other states with long-standing tax incentive programs like Georgia, Colorado, and Maryland.

To learn more about state tax incentive programs and strategies to advocate for their enactment in states that have not yet instituted them, members can watch this webinar on PAEA’s Digital Learning Hub. 

To ensure ongoing access to high-quality clinical training opportunities, PAEA’s Government Relations team is committed to ongoing advocacy to enhance and expand these and other programs. Members with questions about clinical site investments are invited to contact Tyler Smith at