National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) awards scholarships and loan repayment to primary care providers in eligible disciplines.

Strengthening and growing our primary care workforce—through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC)—began in 1972.

Our Mission

The National Health Service Corps builds healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas of the United States with limited access to care.

How great is our impact?

More than

NHSC members


NHSC scholars in school or residency

More than

of NHSC members provide care at a community health center


Our NHSC Impact Summary (PDF - 776 KB) highlights show that 13.7 million people receive care from the NHSC network of clinicians serving at NHSC-approved sites in communities in urban, rural and frontier areas.

Since the NHSC began, more than 50,000 primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health professionals have served.

How does our work serve the public?

By addressing the primary care shortage, we:

  • ensure access to healthcare for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay;
  • prevent disease and illness; and
  • care for the most vulnerable people who may otherwise go without it.

How do you become a member of the NHSC?

Becoming a member of the NHSC requires a commitment of at least two years at an NHSC-approved site, located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). You may choose to, and we hope you will, continue serving at your site beyond the initial NHSC service commitment.

If accepted into the NHSC, you can help those in need, without the burden of debt.

Are you eligible for loan repayment?

To participate in an NHSC Loan Repayment Program, you must:

FIRST: apply for, and accept, a position at an NHSC-approved site of your choosing;

SECOND: apply to an NHSC Loan Repayment Program.

Are you eligible for a scholarship?

Through the NHSC Scholarship Program, we award scholarships to health professions students, accepted to, or enrolled in, an accredited U.S. school in one of the following primary care disciplines:

  • Physicians (MD or DO)
  • Dentists
  • Nurse Practitioners (post-graduate degree with clinical practice focus)
  • Certified Nurse-Midwives
  • Physician Assistants

If we award you a scholarship, we pay your tuition, eligible fees, other reasonable educational costs, and a living stipend. In return, you will work at an NHSC-approved site in a high-need urban, rural or frontier community for at least two years.

How can you become an NHSC-approved site?

With the exception of Federally Qualified Health Centers and Indian Health Service sites, you must apply if you want your facility to become an NHSC site. If approved, your site gains access to much-needed primary care providers.

NHSC-approved sites provide outpatient, ambulatory, primary health services in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). A HPSA is a community with limited access to care.

What are the requirements of loan repayment and scholarship recipients, and NHSC sites?

We lay out our policies in continuously updated guidance documents.

Our loan repayment and scholarship programs release an Application and Program Guidance (APG) for each fiscal year in which we provide funding.

NHSC sites follow the most recent version of the Site Reference Guide (PDF - 915 KB).

These documents outline all of the requirements associated with the program.

What is the history of the NHSC?

The creation of the NHSC came in response to the health care crisis that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s.

Older physicians were retiring and young doctors started to choose specialization over general practice, leaving many areas of the country without access to medical services.

The NHSC enabled health centers in rural, urban, and frontier communities to compete with private medical practices and prevent a growing primary health care shortage.

Major Milestones



NHSC creation

Awarded first scholarships

Grew from 181 providers to over 1,800

Budget 10x larger by decade’s end



Launch of Loan Repayment Program (LRP)

Predicted physician surplus—budget reduced

1989: Field strength reaches 1,500



Early 90s: only 1,000 providers serve

Loan Repayment Program adds mental health discipline

End of decade: Over 2,500 providers serve



Unprecedented growth in field strength due to increased funding

Added new primary care disciplines

2008 – 2011: Number of NHSC members doubled



Behavioral health becomes top discipline amongst NHSC clinicians

Students to Service (S2S) adds dentistry discipline

Telehealth increases rural healthcare access


Why is our work important?

Too many Americans—particularly in underserved areas—go without checkups, preventive screenings, vaccines, routine dental work and other care, simply because there are not enough providers.

Date Last Reviewed:  January 2020

Contact Us

Call 1-800-221-9393
(TTY: 1-877-897-9910)
8 am - 8 pm ET | Mon - Fri
(except federal holidays)
Contact us via email

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