National Health Service Corps expanding again in 2011

Physicians and other health professionals will have access to more money to repay education debts in return for service.

By Doug Trapp — Posted Dec. 9, 2010

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Applications for the next round of National Health Service Corps awards are being accepted, and there is more money and flexibility this time around thanks to provisions in the 2009 economic stimulus package and the national health reform law, the Dept. of Health and Human Services announced Nov. 22.

The NHSC provides $60,000 to primary care medical, nursing, dental and mental health clinicians who serve two years in a medically underserved area. The maximum award is $175,000 for a five-year commitment, said NHSC Director Rebecca Spitzgo.

In 2011, qualifying clinicians can receive loan repayment when working part time and will receive credit for teaching, said Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN., administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration. Previously, clinicians had to work full time, and teaching didn't count as service.

The stimulus package and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are providing nearly $300 million to the NHSC, according to HRSA spokeswoman Michelle Daniels. "By the end of [fiscal] 2011, we expect that over 10,800 clinicians will be caring for more than 11 million people, more than tripling the National Health Service Corps since 2008," Spitzgo said.

The NHSC has provided financial assistance to more than 37,000 clinicians since it began in 1972.

In addition to physicians, clinicians who qualify for NHSC loan repayment are dentists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, physician assistants, dental hygienists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatric nurse specialists, marriage and family therapists and licensed professional counselors.

More information is available online (link).

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