National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment

Primary care is the place to be if you’re a physician or mid-level practitioner and you want government help to repay your student loans.

For pediatricians, internists, obstetrician-gynecologists, family practitioners, nurse practitioners physician assistants and other licensed medical providers, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) will repay up to $360,000 for 16 years of service. But even a four-year full-time commitment to the NHSC can yield $120,000 for primary care practitioners in qualified locations.

The program and links to more information are described fully here.

As straight forward as the application process is, service in the NHSC is serious business. In addition to a minimum two-year commitment to the corps, applicants must also be willing to relocate and practice in a location that is “site approved” to employ NHSC practitioners. All sites have a shortage of physicians and many are in impoverished cities or rural areas. A directory of approved sites is available from the government, here.

But there is another big potential upside: while the loan repayment is considered sufficient compensation to entice young practitioners to move into rural communities, many communities that have shortage designations also offer Medicare payment bonuses on top of loan repayment as added incentive for practicing in the community. In some cases, this can be as much as 20-percent of the professional component in Medicare billing.

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