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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Health Professional Shortage Designations

Contact the Florida Department of Health

Shortage Designations/Underserved Areas

There are two types of health professional shortage designations: Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and Medically Underserved Areas or Populations (MUAs/MUPs).  Both designations consider primary care physician-to-population ratios, other high-need indicators (poverty levels, percent of the population that is elderly, infant death rate and rate of low birth weight), and barriers to access care.  Designations are required for placement of health professionals under the National Health Service Corps and waiver programs for foreign physicians.  Designations are also necessary for the location of community and migrant health centers and rural health clinics, programs that provide health care to underserved populations.

Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are defined in Section 332 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 254e to include: (1) urban and rural geographic areas, (2) population groups, and (3) facilities with shortages of health professionals.  Federal designation as a HPSA documents a shortage of health care providers (primary care, dental or mental health) as well as the existence of barriers to accessing care including lack of public transportation, travel time and distance to the next source of undesignated care and high poverty.  To be eligible for designation, a geographic area or a population group (a low income or migrant population) must have a population-to-physician ratio greater than 3,000 to one.

What a Designation Means

  • A geographic designation for the whole county means there is a shortage of providers (primary care physicians, dentists, mental health professionals) for everyone living in the county, regardless of ability to pay for services through insurance or other means.
  • A geographic area within the county means there is a shortage of health care providers for everyone living in that area of the county. 
  • A special population designation for the whole county (or parts of counties) means there is a shortage of providers to meet the needs of low income, migrant or other special populations because the existing providers do not serve these patients.

Bureau of Health Professions, Shortage Designation Branch. Find a HPSA by address.


Contact Information

Florida Department of Health
State Primary Care Office
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin C-15
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1701
Fax: (850)922-6296