NHSC: A Public Health Impact Story

Our History

Congress established the NHSC as part of the Emergency Health Personnel Act Amendments of 1970. Those amendments authorized scholarships for health professionals to improve health outcomes and increase access to quality health care in underserved rural and urban areas. In 1972, the first NHSC clinicians, Public Health Service Corps civil servants, entered service in 20 communities in 13 states. This first class was part of an interim NHSC loan repayment program while the first program scholars finished their health professional degrees and entered service in 1975.

Our Present

Fast forward 50 years and now tens of thousands of NHSC clinicians have served across the country. That includes current NHSC members helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years by administering tests and vaccines, and supporting the mental health needs of their communities.

As the Corps has grown, HRSA has increasingly focused on emerging needs, including mental health and substance use disorders – adding two SUD treatment loan repayment programs in recent years.

The program’s mission of connecting quality clinicians with communities that need them has been crucial to achieving equitable healthcare for all populations.

Our Impact in Numbers

  • Five health professional scholarship and loan repayment programs and one grant program make up the NHSC field strength.
  • Nearly 20,000 NHSC providers care for almost 21 million patients across the U.S.
  • All NHSC clinicians serve in HPSAs at more than 10,000 community health centers where patients are seen regardless of their ability to pay.
  • More than 2,500 medical students and residents are preparing for service in the NHSC.
  • More than 9,300 NHSC mental and behavioral health clinicians make up the largest discipline in the Corps. About 43% of these health professionals provide substance use disorder treatment services.
  • One in three NHSC clinicians (7,100+) serve in a rural community providing primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services where they may be the only health care services available for miles.
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