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Health and Human Services Department to dole out $293 million to boost primary care in high-need areas

Funds to be dispersed among National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps programs for budding physicians and nurses, loan repayment.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Credit: John Moore/Getty ImagesCredit: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA, will dole out $293 million to primary healthcare clinicians and students through the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps programs.

The NHSC Scholarship program will get $47.1 million to disburse as 229 awards to students pursuing primary care training that will lead to a degree in medicine, dentistry, nurse-midwife, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Award recipients will then bring their skills to a high-need region. 

The Nurse Corps Scholarship program will get $25.1 million to dole out as 219 awards to nursing students in exchange for a two-year work commitment in a facility with "critical shortages." 

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The National Health Service Corps Students to Service Loan Repayment Program will get $19.3 million which will provide for 162 new awards to medical and dental students in their last year of school in exchange for choosing primary care as a specialty and working in a rural or urban area with high need.

The $293 million was spread out among more than half a dozen such programs.

THE IMPACT

The NHSC and Nurse Corps programs provide scholarships and loan repayment to healthcare providers in exchange for working in areas of the U.S. with limited access to care, improving the health and wellness of those regions. Also, a looming physician shortage over the next decade stands to most adversely affect the primary care specialty. Providing awards that might persuade more aspiring clinicians to take up family medicine and primary care might lessen the sting of the mounting shortfall in that area.

THE TREND

More than 12,500 NHSC and Nurse Corps clinicians are currently providing care to about 13 million patients. Another 1,725 primary care students are either in school or in residency preparing for future service with the Corps.

The Corps' members also provide behavioral healthcare services, including medication-assisted treatment and other substance use disorder care, and HRSA continues to invest in expanding access to substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas.

ON THE RECORD

"These programs connect primary care providers with the rural, urban, and tribal communities across the country that need them most," said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas. "In addition to providing essential medical and dental care, these clinicians are on the front lines helping to fight pressing public health issues, like the growing opioid epidemic."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com