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  4. NHSC’s Success: Connecting Clinicians to Communities

NHSC’s Success: Connecting Clinicians to Communities

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary and National Health Center Week (August 7-13) we want to highlight our NHSC-approved site. Our sites are central to the success of NHSC programs and advancing the health of local communities. 

In the early days of the NHSC, communities asked Congress to send health providers to areas that struggled to obtain or keep clinicians. The facilities that the newly awarded NHSC clinicians were sent to serve were, essentially, the first NHSC service sites. Today, more than 19,000 NHSC-approved sites and treatment facilities are available to support NHSC clinicians as they complete their service in communities where they’re needed most.

Serving Across the U.S.

Like the patients they serve, NHSC-approved sites are located all over the country, with many serving large, densely populated metropolitan areas. At the same time, many of these sites serve tribal lands and in rural communities where people may have a particularly difficult time accessing health care services or need to travel some distance to receive that care.

Serving for Decades

Site approval for what were called “health manpower shortage areas” began as early as the 1960s. These sites were precursors to the current NHSC-approved sites, with many located in inner-city and rural communities with minority populations in desperate need of health care services.

Among those early sites was HRSA-funded Delta Health Center, Inc. in Mound Bayou, Miss. Approved in 1969, the site serves a current population made up of more than 96% African Americans, much the same as when the center opened. The site also has the distinction of being the first rural community health center in the nation. Today, Delta’s network of 17 active HRSA-funded, NHSC-approved sites provide care to thousands of patients. With two NHSC participants and a full staff of health professionals, the health center network is committed to providing a program designed to promote the community's general health through disease prevention and healthy lifestyles.

Serving With Committed Providers

NHSC-approved sites are an invaluable part of the Corps.

Sites use their status as NHSC approved to recruit and retain highly qualified clinicians interested in pursuing a career in primary health care who might also have health professional student debt. This partnership has provided an excellent way for sites like the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK), a network of 30 NHSC-approved sites in Kansas and parts of Oklahoma, to recruit for hard-to-fill positions.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas building exterior – aerial view

The network currently has 36 active NHSC members, with the majority participating through the loan repayment program. Moreover, they’ve recruited 100-plus NHSC participants over the past nearly 20 years. Sites in the CHC/SEK network include full-service clinics, schools, and jails – offering medical, dental, and behavioral health/SUD treatment to 75,000 patients. The CHC/SEK also collaborates with local Pittsburg State University’s HRSA-funded Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Integration Program and recently began a family practice residency through the HRSA-funded Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) Program.

Additionally, many sites have benefitted from having clinicians stay through a commitment to their community that remains well beyond their service obligation or contract continuations that allow providers to pay off additional qualifying student debt. For instance, Dr. James Monroe, an NHSC scholar, continues to serve at HRSA-funded, NHSC-approved Access Family Health Services in Smithville, Mississippi, nearly 40 years past his service obligation. And nurse practitioner, Richetta Deas, has remained at Fetter Health Care Network sites in South Carolina (another HRSA-funded NHSC-approved health center) for the past 11 years, beginning with her initial NHSC loan repayment award and then with contract continuations. 

“I have been blessed because the National Health Service Corps has afforded me the opportunity to actively participate in a critical needs area that suffers tremendous socio-economic hardships, extensive co-morbidities and remains in desperate need of healthcare providers,” said Deas.

NHSC-approved sites provide the connection to underserved communities so that NHSC clinicians can provide the primary health care needed. This successful combination will continue to increase healthier outcomes for millions of Americans today and into the future. We appreciate all of our currently approved sites!

Become an NHSC site

Sign up and we’ll notify you when the next New Site Application Cycle opens. Some sites may be eligible for approval at any time. Find out if your site is one of them.

All NHSC-approved sites receive the benefits of online, interactive Virtual Job Fairs and access to the Health Workforce Connector to promote their health center/site and post job openings. 

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