Program Repays Student Loans for Primary Care Physicians Working in Underserved Areas

Feb 29, 2012, 1:11 PM

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has awarded $9.1 million to medical students participating in the National Health Service Corps’ Students to Service Loan Repayment Program. In exchange for funds to repay their medical school debts, the 77 students in the pilot program commit to provide primary care services in communities with shortages of health professionals and limited access to care.

After their residencies, participants will spend three years full-time, or six years half-time, working in clinical practice in underserved or rural communities. They can receive annual student loan repayment funds of up to $30,000 while in the program.

The pilot program, created by the Affordable Care Act—the health reform law—aims to help alleviate a shortage of primary care professionals. “This new program is an innovative approach to encouraging more medical students to work as primary care doctors," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Read more about the shortage of primary care providers and efforts to recruit primary care physicians in underserved areas.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.