Ladders to Licensure grant program to train health care workers signed into law

 

STATE HOUSE — A new law sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano and Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi will create a grant program to address the shortage of medical professionals while increasing the diversity of the health care workforce to match the diversity of Rhode Island’s communities.

“The continuing shortages in our health care system present an urgent challenge but also an opportunity to recognize the existing talent in our workforce and supporting them in advancing that passion up the career ladder,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We can help address the shortages in our health care system while providing pathways for more diverse candidates to expand their roles and capabilities.”

The legislation (2024-H 8078aa, 2024-S 2867Aaa), which was signed into law Wednesday, will establish the Ladders to Licensure program, a grant program administered by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to assist health care paraprofessionals to access higher education, with a focus on behavioral health and nursing.

“Our health care paraprofessionals have the workplace experience that makes them ideal candidates for higher education in medicine,” said Senator Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket). “This grant program will open a pathway for many to level up their education and training, increasing their job opportunities and standard of living while diversifying our state’s health care workforce and addressing much needed shortages.”

The program was included in the 2025 fiscal year budget (2024-H 7225Aaa) adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor. It provides funding for grants to three or four partnerships with private sector and education health care organizations, with at least one focused on behavioral health and one on nursing, with the goal of both increasing the number and diversity of licensed health professionals in Rhode Island.

“Today, our state confronts significant challenges and shortages in the availability of health care providers, particularly for patients who are non-English speakers or from diverse backgrounds and cultures,” said Marcela Betancur, executive director at the Latino Policy Institute. “The Ladders to Licensure Program is an innovative strategy to diversify the professional workforce by providing the help that paraprofessionals need to pursue higher education.”

 

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