Overview and Inventory of HHS Efforts to Assist Incarcerated and Reentering Individuals and their Families . National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program (SP), Loan Repayment Program (LRP)


Funding Mechanism: Contracts with individuals

Total Available Funding: $100.8 million

Number of Awards:158 scholarships and 1,779 new loan repayment awards (572 NHSC participants serving incarcerated populations)

Award Amount: $50,000 over 2 years for LRP; Scholarships vary by discipline

Length of Project Period: Minimum service requirement is 2 years. SP has maximum service of 4 years, LRP offers contract amendments in 1-year increments.

Federal Partners: Bureau of Prisons

Summary: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) helps to recruit clinicians to underserved areas, which may include Federal and State prisons, through the provision of scholarships and loan repayment in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment. The NHSC provides contracts to individuals who agree to or are currently working in a NHSC-approved site. Currently, the NHSC has 569 NHSC participants working in Federal prisons. In addition, there are 3 NHSC participants working in State prisons. While in service, NHSC participants address the physical and mental health needs of the incarcerated populations. There is a particular need for mental and behavioral health providers in the incarcerated populations. Of the 572 NHSC participants working in prisons nearly 400 of them are mental and behavioral health providers.

Background: Since 1972, more than 30,000 clinicians have served in the NHSC, expanding access to health care services and improving the health of people who live in health professional shortage areas (HPSAs). Included in the definition of HPSAs are medical facilities that the Secretary determines has a shortage of health providers, which includes Federal and State prisons. Given the nature of the incarcerated population, nearly all Federal and State prisons are eligible to be a NHSC-approved site.

The NHSC operates both scholarship and loan repayment programs. The NHSC scholarship is a competitive program that pays tuition, fees and provides a living stipend to students enrolled in accredited medical, dental, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, and physician assistant training. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients serve as primary care providers between 2 and 4 years in a community-based site.

The NHSC Loan Repayment Program offers fully trained primary care physicians, family nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists, and certain mental health clinicians $50,000 to repay student loans in exchange for 2 years serving in a community-based site in a high-need HPSA that has applied to and been approved by the NHSC as a service site.

DISCIPLINE Federal Bureau
of Prisons
State Prison
Examples of current grantees: N/A.
The NHSC provides contracts to individuals.
See below for listing of current NHSC participants in prisons, by discipline.
Clinical Psych. 299 1 300
Dentist 58   58
Dental Hygienists 12   12
Physician (DO) 13   13
Lic. PC 40 2 42
MD 52   52
MFT 1   1
NP 30   30
PA 45   45
PNS 1   1
SW 18   18
Total 569 3 572

Location(s) of Projects: NHSC clinicians serve in HPSAs across the United States .

Evaluation Activities: None

Future Prospects: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided $1.5 billion in mandatory funding from FY 2011 through FY2015, in addition to annual congressionally appropriated funds to be determined.


Mike Berry
Email: MBerry@hrsa.gov

Lindsey Toohey
Email: LToohey@hrsa.gov

More information available at: http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/

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