U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced that the number of participants in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has nearly tripled in the last three years. There currently are more than 10,000 physicians, nurses and other health care providers serving in the National Health Corps. In 2008, approximately 3.7 million patients were provided health services by 3,600 NHSC providers. In 2011, more than 10,000 NHSC members provide services to about 10.5 million patients.
The NHSC has received important investments from the Affordable Care Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations, allowing programs to provide nearly $900 million in scholarships and loan repayment awards to health care professionals who agree to serve for specified periods in the nation’s underserved communities. “Eighty-two percent of NHSC clinicians continue to serve in high-need areas after they fulfill their service commitment,” said U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN. “These awards help to ensure that underserved communities across the county have access to quality health care both today and in the future.”
NHSC members receive awards from HRSA’s Loan Repayment Program and the Scholarship Program. Last year, osteopathic medical students received 40 percent of the physician (DO and MD) scholarships.