Helping More Medical Students Repay their Loans
By Rebecca Spitzgo, Director of the National Health Service Corps
Thousands of primary care providers have a passion for helping those in need, and the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, strengthened by the Affordable Care Act, helps doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care providers do just that.
Today marks the opening of the 2012 application cycle for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. Primary care medical, dental, and mental/behavioral health clinicians are able to pay down their educational debt, and earn a competitive salary, while providing comprehensive care in underserved communities.
Access to primary care services remains a major challenge in the United States. About one in five people (21 percent) live in a primary care shortage area. This often means that entire families – from infants to grandparents – must travel far distances to receive care, can’t find a provider, or they simply go without.
With more than 10,000 clinicians working at one of 17,000 National Health Service Corps-approved health care sites in urban and rural communities, the program helps train Americans who work in organizations that provide primary care services to approximately 10 million people – regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. From Oakland, California to Altamont, Tennessee to Glassboro, New Jersey, Corps members make an impact in their communities for the long-term.
Dr. Katherine Culp says the National Health Service Corps provided her exactly what she was looking for – an opportunity to be debt free, stay in her state and be close to family. Dr. Culp is a dentist who has remained at her NHSC site for the past 8 years and has risen to the position of Dental Director. “I got here and saw how we provide access to so many people, especially children and that it is a perfect match for me.”
Since 1972, the National Health Service Corps has supported some 40,000 primary care providers as they’ve worked in communities with limited access to care. Many changes have happened over the years, but the central goal of the Corps has remained the same: to connect dedicated primary care providers with the communities that need them most.
For more information about the NHSC and the Loan Repayment Program, please visit NHSC.hrsa.gov.