The National Health Service Corps: Reduce or Pay Off School Debt in Exchange for Service
For 50 years, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has been building healthy communities by connecting highly qualified health care providers to underserved areas nationwide. The NHSC provides financial support to skilled health care workers in exchange for service in high-need rural, urban, and tribal areas that are designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.
NHSC scholarship and loan repayment programs provide a unique career path for service-minded health professionals who want to be part of the communities they serve. Since 1972, NHSC physicians have been building trusting, long-lasting relationships with patients who otherwise may be apprehensive about seeking health care. Over time, these relationships are not only rewarding for the health care provider; they help address health equity and make a difference in the way that the community responds to treatment recommendations. Within their clinics, NHSC health care providers have opportunities to work on integrated care teams and often go on to serve as medical directors or other leadership positions.
The need for health professionals in underserved areas has intensified since the emergence of COVID-19. Dr. Luis Padilla, Associate Administrator for HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce and NHSC Director, notes, “We entered the pandemic with some serious crises that were not new but had worsened over time. Racial inequities continue to cause health disparities nationwide; health care worker shortages are growing; and mental health and substance abuse matters have been on the rise. We aim to address these challenges through our programs, which incentivize clinicians to work in areas of the U.S. that have limited access to care.”
The NHSC offers three programs that are designed to offset the expense of education for health professionals in exchange for service in high-need communities:
- Students to Service Loan Repayment
- Medical, physician assistant, nursing, and dental students in their final year of school may be eligible to receive loan repayment assistance in exchange for service at an NHSC-approved site. The 2023 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service (S2S) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is currently open for applications. Eligible students can apply for awards of up to $120,000. In exchange, they serve a three-year commitment to providing primary care services at NHSC-approved sites in high-need, underserved areas. In case you missed it, view the SHPEP NHSC informational webinar from October 19, 2022.
- Loan Repayment
- Working health professionals may be eligible to receive loan repayment in exchange for service at an NHSC-approved site. The NHSC Loan Repayment Program typically opens for applications in the winter and has three offerings with different eligibilities, award amounts, and service requirements – traditional, rural, and substance use disorder.
- Students pursuing primary care health professions training may be eligible to receive full scholarships in exchange for practicing at an NHSC-approved site upon graduation and licensure. The NHSC Scholarship Program typically opens for applications in the spring.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to apply to these programs! Sign up and get NHSC email alerts when application cycles open. Please share this information with other health career professionals who may be interested.