Only 13 schools nationwide to receive similar awards

Le Moyne College’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program has been awarded a $2.075 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) designed to increase the number of physician assistants trained to deliver behavioral health services in rural areas, including preventing, identifying, diagnosing, treating and referring services. The grant will cover a five year period that begins on Monday, July 1.

The grant will improve the ability of the rural behavioral health and primary care networks to address dire and complex rural community needs in New York state, including a shortage of behavioral health providers and services in rural areas, the social isolation of rural providers, and a growing population with complex chronic diseases and substance abuse and opioid use disorders.

The last HRSA grant that Le Moyne’s PA Program received prior to this was in 2019; that $1.5 million grant was used to promote primary care practice in rural and/or underserved areas over the past five years. Including this grant, since 2005 Le Moyne has received nearly $7 million from HRSA for various health care programs and initiatives.

“We are thrilled to be awarded this opportunity to address health care workforce shortages in rural communities,” said Mary Springston PA-C, who will serve as project director as part of the grant. “Rural communities suffer higher rates of substance use disorders, mental illness and chronic diseases due to a variety of reasons such as lack of access to care. With this grant we will be able to do what Le Moyne does best, which is to take a holistic approach to patient care and focus on the biopsychosocial and spiritual aspects which impact people suffering from illness.”

“This ongoing funding from HRSA has allowed Physician Assistant Studies at Le Moyne to strengthen and support innovation in an already high-functioning program,” said Margaret Wells, Ph.D., R.N., APN-BC., dean of the Purcell School of Professional Studies.  “An important objective of this grant is to promote Interprofessional Education and we are thrilled that the PA department will be collaborating with the various healthcare programs within Purcell.”

The PA Program will collaborate with the College’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program and rural clinical partners on this grant. In addition to Springston’s role as director, a part-time director of rural health will be hired. Project objectives include:

  • Developing curriculum to address behavioral health and substance use disorders;
  • Develop a three-month minimum integrated behavioral health clinical rotation in rural primary care settings;
  • Establish strategic partnerships to support primary care behavioral health integration in rural areas.

Le Moyne is one of only 13 institutions of higher education in the nation to receive an award under the Primary Care Training and Enhancement: Physician Assistant Rural Training in Behavioral Health Program (PCTE-PARB).  It received the only PCTE-PARB grant awarded in the northeast and is the only Jesuit college or university to receive a grant through this program. Other institutions to received grants include the University of Oklahoma, the University of Maryland and the Medical University of South Carolina.

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $2,075,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit