Interview with the National Health Service Corps

Session 20

Session 20 In today's episode, Ryan talks with the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program. Back in session 18, the podcast covered the Air Force HPSP Program. Both of which are scholarships that you can apply to so you can get medical school paid for where you get a monthly stipend and cost through medical school will be covered.

Here are the highlights of the conversation:

About the NHSC Scholarship Program:

  • Authorized in 1974 to address the shortage of primary care physicians, especially in rural America
  • In the 80's, NHSC included the loan repayment program
  • Accepting the scholarship doesn't make you commit to live in a rural area; instead, NHSC sites are found throughout the country where there are underserved populations
  • To increase access to care by supporting primary care providers as they practice in underserved areas
  • Provides for students pursuing a degree in the following health professions:
    • Internal Medicine
    • Family Medicine
    • Psychiatry
    • Pediatrics
    • OB/GYN
    • Dentistry
    • Certified nurse midwives
    • Nurse practitioners
    • Physicians assistants

What the scholarship covers:

  • Full tuition and fees (non-taxable)
  • Other reasonable costs (books, microscope, instruments, etc.)
  • Monthly stipend (taxable)

Years of scholarship available:

  • 1 year minimum
  • 4 years maximum

Required years of commitment:

  • 2 years minimum to practice at the NHSC site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)

Choosing another specialty not included in the program:

If you switch from IM to surgery for example, you have to give back all the money given to you plus penalties on top of that

Defining the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA):

  • Using data sets for determining whether an area (typically a county) has a shortage of healthcare providers based on birth rate, morbidity, mortality, socio-economics, what it takes for an average person to drive to a healthcare facility, insurance, etc.
  • Based on a scoring system of 0 to 26 with 26 indicating the highest needs
  • Outpatient setting for the most part

HPSA Scoring:

  • Re-scoring every 3 years
  • Scholars in their last year training enter into a placement cycle where they are given one-on-one support
  • Some sites are not approved but are approvable
  • Sites are not limited to rural areas but located everywhere (rural, urban, frontiers, reservations, etc.)

Characteristics of HPSA populations:

  • On Medicare/ Medicaid
  • No insurance
  • Workforce but no access to healthcare

How competitive is the scholarship program?

They receive thousands of applications with over 200 awards in the past 2 years

What makes you a good candidate for the program?

  • Being able to demonstrate that you can complete the program
  • Demonstrated commitment to practicing in underserved areas
  • Volunteering experiences and healthcare missions
  • Priority is given to students with economic and social disadvantaged backgrounds

Which medical schools you can go to:

Fully accredited program in the US

Requirements for the application process:

  • Completed online application
  • Two letters of recommendation (Academic and Non-academic)
  • Documentation (if you are from a disadvantaged background)
  • Transcript
  • CV
  • 3 Essays
  • Current tuition and fees of the school they're planning to attend

Robust initiative to help scholars prepare for practice:

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Mentor program

Requirements for loan repayment option:

  • Practicing at an NHSC approved site
  • Full-time or half-time
  • Priority funding goes to providers practicing in higher needs areas
  • Participant is able to come in every year for a one-year contract with caps or limits on the money

Links and Other Resources:

Session 018: Air Force HPSP Scholarship Info Interview


NHSC Application Start

Health Professional Shortage Area Search

NHSC Application and Program Guidance

NHSC Criteria for Disadvantaged Background

NHSC on Twitter

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