NHSC Helping More People Than Ever

October 28th, 2011

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By , BSN, RN

If you want to be a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife, are interested in working in underserved communities right here at home in the United States and want some help paying for school, maybe the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is for you. And, you would have lots of coworkers. The number of nurses, doctors and other health care professionals caring for America’s underserved communities through the NHSC has nearly tripled to more than 10,000 members in just the past three years.

“Thanks to the National Health Service Corps, more Americans can see a doctor and get the health care they need,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The investments we made are improving health and creating access to care, fueling economic activity nationwide.”

Established in 1972, the NHSC, which is administered by the HHS, has provided health care to communities across the country through the service of more than 41,000 primary health care practitioners over its nearly 40-year history. The NHSC provides financial, professional and educational resources to medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health care providers who bring their skills to areas of the US with limited access to health care.

Financial Aid In Trade for Commitment

The organization offers financial incentives, scholarships, and loan repayment programs, to medical professionals, such as nurses, if they commit to two or more years serving high-need areas. The scholarships the NHSC provide pay tuition, fees and a living stipend to students who are enrolled in accredited medical, dental, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife and physician assistant training programs and provides recipients with their assignment upon graduation. The NHSC has awarded nearly $900 million in scholarships and loan repayment to health care professionals.

These competitive awards were made through the following programs:

  • The NHSC Loan Repayment Program – 5,418 awards (4,127 new and 1,291 continuations) totaling $253 million from Affordable Care Act, Recovery Act, and FY 2011 base appropriation investments. The loan repayment program provides an initial, tax-free award of up to $60‚000 for two years of service in an underserved community and the opportunity to pay off all health professional student loans with continued service.
  • The NHSC Scholarship Program – 247 awards totaling $46 million from Affordable Care Act investments. The scholarship program pays tuition, required fees, and other education costs for as many as four years. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients serve as primary care providers between two and four years at an NHSC-approved site in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area.

It is estimated that the program is currently serving 10.5 million patients and that 80% of those enrolled in the program will continue to provide care in the underserved regions they've been assigned to through the corps after completing their commitment.

There are over 17,000 NHSC-approved rural and urban sites across the country from Aberdeen, Washington and McClusky, North Dakota to Akron, Ohio and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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