National Health Service Corps - what's it like? is it worth the commitment?

lemurlover

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I'm considering applying for NHSC. Anybody in it already? What is it like? I heard that most of the sites are drastically under-funded and it's frustrating to be committed to working in such an environment. Is it possible to have a satisfying holistic and complementary medicine practice while serving in the NHSC?
Also, i'm queer and CAN'T end up in kansas...How much freedom do you get about where you end up?
Thanks!
 

Assistant

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Umm, I don't know if you being queer will affect you acquiring the scholarship, but you can show a strong interest to work in urban areas that serve low-income populations. If you look on the NHSC scholarship webpage, there is a link for the scholarship booklet in pdf. This booklet will give you an idea of the areas that are serviced. Also you can look up opportunities available to get an idea of where help is needed.

By the way, the scholarship deadline is March 25, 2005 for medical students.
 

bth7

It's worth it in the end . . .
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This is sort of cool, you can search the list of underserved area. Is it just me,
or are they all in Alaska?

http://belize.hrsa.gov/newhpsa/newhpsa.cfm

I'm really interested in more info. Anybody got any?

Also, I figured out the all the Alaska locations come up first b/c that's one of the first states alphabetically. :idea:
 

jhug

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There is a big thread in the financial aid area...
I have the four year scholarship.
Max is 4 years, the minimum is 2ys.
As for what it's like...i'm still on the receiving end so it is awesome!!! I'll let you know what i think in a few years:)
Right now it is great. You get a monthly stipend, never see a bill for school, and each year you get a check for what your school says is required of all students (books, equipment, boards, insurance).
If you go to http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/jobs/search_form.cfm and enter physician, specialty, and "NHSC opportunities for scholars" you can see what sites are available.
As for where you end up...there are two phases to "placement"
Phase I is you actively applying for a job off that list. If you find an area you like, they like you, you sign a contract, the NHSC verifies it and you are "assigned" to that area. If you can't/don't/won't find a job (I've been told by May of your last year of residency) then you enter phase II, which is the NHSC working with you to assign you a site. In the end, the scholarship is worth about $250K and you can be sure that the NHSC is going to get their end of the deal:)

Now, i have talked with people that were able to have an area apply to be considered underserved so they could work there (it's based on a physician to population ratio)...so that is possible too.
Also, it is important to know that these sites are required by law to pay you what they would pay any other physician...
If you know primary care is your thing, and you don't mind a somewhat limited choice in where you work...this is a great way to go. They also have a loan replacement program (i don't know much about, but you should be able to get all the info you need off that site)
 

bth7

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I'm not getting the difference b/w the Loan Replacement program and the Scholarship program. Can someone explain?

Can you apply for either AFTER you start med school?
 

medicine1

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From
NHSC webpage:
http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/applications/

"1.Purpose of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program (LRP)
The purpose of the NHSC LRP is to ensure an adequate supply of health professionals to provide primary health services (through a culturally competent, interdisciplinary team of clinicians) to populations located in selected health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) identified by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. HPSAs can be found in rural and urban communities across the Nation. The NHSC LRP recruits fully trained health professionals who agree to provide primary health services in NHSC community sites. In return, the NHSC LRP assists clinicians in their repayment of qualifying educational loans that are still owed. The NHSC is seeking clinicians that demonstrate the characteristics for and interest in serving the Nation's medically underserved populations and remaining in HPSAs beyond their service commitment. It is important to remember that service to medically underserved populations is the primary purpose of the NHSC LRP and not the repayment of educational loans."
 

jhug

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my understanding (but it is limited bc i'm not part of the LRP) is that the loan repayment program is for docs who have already taken loans out for school, graduated, done a residency, and are working when they realize they want help paying off the loans that they have. There is still the two year min. commitment and i think they pay $25K on top of salary toward your loans. This is (imo) the bigger part of the future of the nHSC. First, you are already out working so you aren't a greenie out of residecy. Also, it is much cheaper for the NHSC this way. The kisser is that it may not be quite as attractive for students...
Also, if you get a scholarship and still have loans then you are able to do a LRP at the same site (for another 2 years at least) to pay them off.
 

bth7

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Thanks this is very helpful.

One more (series of) question(s). Can you apply for scholarship program (not LRP) at any point during med school or only at beginning? Is there some advantage to doing it either way? It sounds like the scholarship program is highly competitive . . . is this true? Just how competitive are we talking, I mean we all got into med school right? Are they looking at MCAT and GPA or your commitment to underserved care or what?

Thanks jhug and medicine.
 

jhug

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you can apply each year around march...there is a two year min. so once you are a senior it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to keep trying (otherwise they fund one year but you are committed for two)
As for advantages, i don't know. Personally, I would think that obviously the four year is a bigger investment for the nhsc, but it also is a larger return...you will fill a void for at least 4 years (hopefully more if you stay at that site). Some may argue that the shorter route is better...really i don't know.
I don't remember numbers...maybe someone who went to the new scholar confrence this year can back me up on this...but i remember them saying something like a couple thousand apply and maybe 130-200 total get the scholarship (MD/DO/NP/PA/DD)
Again, i can't tell you what my pharm test was on last week, let alone remember the exact numbers:):):) but i think a ballpark number was 1 in 10 get it.
MCAT and GPA mean nothing...you fill out a really weird bubble sheet full of random questions. Somehow they pull out of the app. what your dedication is to the underserved. The interview is a bit better (try a search of questions) because you are able elaborate on experiences and stuff.
 

medicine1

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"For each year, or partial year, of scholarship funding, a scholar incurs 1 year of obligated service providing full-time primary health care services in a HPSA, where assigned by the NHSC. The minimum service obligations is 2 years."
http://www.dphhs.state.mt.us/hpsd/pubheal/healplan/primcare/nhscsch.htm

Essentially they will pay a minimum of two years, so from year 1-3, the NHSC will pay for tuition and living expenses.

From what I have read, it sounds like the NHSC will take you if you are dedicated to working in an underserved area (rural and inner city), as a primary care physician (Peds,OB/GYN,FP, Internal medicine).
http://www.dphhs.state.mt.us/hpsd/pubheal/healplan/primcare/Brochure_2004.doc

Another article I read, says that the repayment program is the most competitive:

"National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program participants receive funds for the repayment of their qualifying educational loans that are still owed, plus tax assistance."

"All National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program contract awards are made based on the availability of funds. In the past, applications have exceeded available funding; therefore, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program is a highly competitive program. Only the Division of Scholarships and Loan Repayments can guarantee the award of a National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program contract. The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program cannot guarantee the full repayment of qualifying educational loans."
http://www.wphca.org/nhsc.html