HHS Awards More Than $240 Million to Expand the Primary Care Workforce
Connects Health Care Professionals to Underserved Communities
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the award of more than $240 million in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and NURSE Corps scholarship and loan repayment programs to increase access to primary health care in communities that need it most. The awards will recruit over 4,000 medical students and providers. The announcement was made in October.
“The most critical step in connecting people to quality health care is a primary care provider,” said Secretary Burwell. “These awards provide financial support directly to health professionals, including physicians, registered nurses, and physician assistants, to help individuals – particularly the 17.6 million uninsured who have recently gained coverage – find the primary care services they need.”
These programs provide funding to primary care clinicians and students in exchange for their service in underserved communities. They also assist in removing financial barriers for health professionals interested in practicing in a primary care discipline, enabling them to pursue community-based careers.
The announcement coincided with the NHSC’s annual Corps Community Month. Each October, the observance celebrates the impact of the NHSC and highlights the importance of choosing a career in primary care.
Today, more than 9,600 NHSC primary care medical, dental, nursing, and behavioral and mental health practitioners are serving and providing culturally competent care to millions of medically underserved people – more than double the number in 2008.
Additionally, over 2,000 NURSE Corps nurses are also working in communities to improve access to care. The bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which the President signed into law in April, extends funding for the NHSC for two additional years.
“These awards not only strengthen our primary health care workforce, but increase access to primary care in urban, rural and frontier locations nationwide,” said Acting Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Jim Macrae.
“Collectively, these programs are serving millions of Americans who rely on the National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps clinicians for essential health care services.”
The awards will support the following programs:
- The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program ($39.3 million) provides 196 new awards to students pursuing primary care training leading to a degree in medicine, dentistry, or a degree as a nurse-midwife, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner in exchange for providing primary health care services in areas of greatest need.
- The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program ($125.9 million) provides 2,934 new awards to fully trained primary care clinicians in exchange for providing primary health care services in an area of greatest need.
- The National Health Service Corps Students to Service Loan Repayment Program ($11.2 million) provides 96 new awards. This program provides loan repayment assistance to allopathic and osteopathic medical students in their last year of school in return for selecting and completing a primary care residency and working in rural and urban areas of greatest need.
- The NURSE Corps Scholarship Program ($23.2 million) provides 257 new awards to nursing students in exchange for a commitment to work at least two years in a facility with critical shortages.
- The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program ($39.6 million) provides 590 new awards. The program offers loan repayment assistance to nurses in exchange for a commitment to serve at least 2 years at a health care facility with a critical shortage of nurses or serve as nurse faculty at an accredited school of nursing.
- The Faculty Loan Repayment Program ($1.1 million) provides 21 new awards to health professions educators in exchange for serving as a faculty member in an accredited and eligible health professions school. The program also encourages participants to promote careers in their respective health care fields.
- The Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program ($799,000) provides 9 new awards to Native Hawaiian health care professionals trained in those disciplines and specialties most needed to deliver quality, culturally competent, primary health services to Native Hawaiians in the State of Hawaii.
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