Many physicians and high-needs communities have mutually benefitted from the National Health Service Corps’ loan-repayment program (LRP). But as the shortage of primary care practitioners increases in duration, more medical students are beginning to take advantage of the lesser used NHSC Scholarship Program. While the programs are similar in scope and intent, the Scholarship Program has the added benefit, to students, of paying for their education as they receive it, rather than waiting to accumulate medical school debt, with the hopes of repaying it quickly.
To participate, medical students must be willing to accept certain restrictions that do not apply to the LRP. The first is that they do not have a choice of location for their assignment after graduation. Physicians, nurse practitioners or physicians assistants in the LRP can choose where they want to apply for loan repayment their acceptance is based on the community’s overall needs.
In the scholarship program, medical students’ future placement is also determined by a community’s healthcare needs, but it is specifically based on a health professional shortage area’s score, which must be 14 or greater. That score indicates that a community has a great deal of unmet need with regard to primary care and has a combination of significant low-weight births, high infant-mortality, and a low proportion of healthcare providers to the population. These communities would be professionally challenging to any practitioner.
The benefits, however, are tempting for any student, including paid tuition and fees at medical school and an approximately $1,200 monthly stipend during active enrollment.
More information is available at http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/scholarships/