Policy Issues & Resources: National Health Service Corps
The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (LRP) supports fully trained health professionals to provide culturally competent, interdisciplinary health services to underserved populations throughout the country. The National Health Service Corps is a useful incentive for recruitment and retention of health professionals, and behavioral health providers comprise about a third of loan repayers in the NHSC.
More Funding Available for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
The 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides $200 Million in additional funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to add more sites and up to 3,000 more clinicians to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program (LRP).
- The sooner you apply, the better your chances of funding. New sites are being recruited and accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, meaning that sites with very low Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores will now be able to employ qualified NHSC clinicians.
- Applications are being accepted on an open, continuous basis until all Recovery Act funds are expended — 15 months or sooner. Members are strongly encouraged to begin the application process early, especially if your agency will need to recruit new clinicians or obtain approval for new NHSC sites located within a HPSA.
- For 2009 and 2010, there are six semi-quarterly application cycles:
Cycle 1 – July 16, 2009
Cycle 2 – August 27, 2009
Cycle 3 – November 19, 2009
Cycle 4 – February 25, 2010
Cycle 5 – April 29, 2010
Cycle 6 – July 29, 2010
Expanded, but Time Limited Opportunity
- For the first time, clinicians do not need to be employed at the site at the time of application. Most applications will be processed within 8 weeks of receipt of a complete application.
- The NHSC is also recruiting new sites. With these new funds, HRSA will likely accept much lower Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores than in previous years. In 2008, HPSA scores as low as 8 (out of a possible 26 points) were funded, and HRSA may fund lower HPSA scores this year.
- In addition, limits on the number of health professionals per site will be significantly raised to allow many more clinicians to serve within the same site. Currently, sites are limited to no more than 2 allopathic (MD) or osteopathic (DO) physicians, and no more than a combined total of 2 Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, or Certified Nurse Midwives. Mental health clinicians are limited to no more than 2 Psychiatrists (MD or DO), and no more than a combined total of 2 Clinical or Counseling Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, or Psychiatric Nurse Specialists. See the NHSC site for more information on eligibility
- ARRA also allocated $24 million for new NHSC Scholarships and $20 million for state loan repayment programs to be allocated by states. See the State Loan Repayment page for Eligibility requirements and benefits that vary from state to state.
- $75 million is reserved for renewals in 2011. After the initial 2 year service requirement, LRP clinicians with remaining education loan debt can apply for renewals until the loans are paid off. Note that in order to qualify for a renewal, clinicians will need to receive an award by September 30, 2009 in order to serve the 2 years required before applying for a renewal.
Resources and Links
- NHSC Resource Guide from the National Council to help sites and clinicians to apply for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program.
- NHSC Presentation from HRSA
- Clinician requirements and application.
- Site application requirements
- A checklist for the application process can be found on the NHCS website. (IGNORE Deadline that has passed – HRSA has not updated the webpage for new applications yet)
- Information about the Private Practice Option and the PPO application
- State level data on HPSA designated areas and number of NHSC clinicians per area can also be found online.
- Existing NHSC job opportunities are available online.
- NHSC YouTube Channel
- Specific questions may also be addressed through the Call Center: 1-800-221-9393
- To verify HPSA scores in your state, or obtain NHSC approval for a site within a HPSA, contact your State Primary Care Offices.
- Other Loan Repayment Programs
The National Council is interested in hearing from members who have loan repayment clinicians on staff or have attempted to obtain HPSA scores in the past. Please contact Chris Loftis to share your comments and experiences with the NHSC program or if you need assistance in applying for the NHSC.