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National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

Updated 11/5/2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, we are actively working to address issues that affect our National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps participants and approved sites.

Our goal is to offer flexibility in our program requirements so you may focus on facing this national public health emergency.

NHSC and Nurse Corps Clinicians

I’m currently teleworking for my approved NHSC site. How is telework handled in regards to the in-service verification (ISV) for participants? 

NHSC and Nurse Corps recognize that clinical service delivery methods may be altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To accommodate these changes, telework activities are managed in the same way as physically working at your NHSC approved site(s). You must meet the minimum required service hours for patient care per week according to your NHSC or Nurse Corps contract.

Any missed days or hours that result in you not meeting the minimum required service hours associated with your contract must be reported on your next in-service verification.

If you are a Nurse Corps Scholarship Program participant, at least 80% of the hours you are required to work per week must be spent providing clinical services or direct patient care to patients.

(Added: 11/2/2020)

Who or what determines how long the national public health emergency declaration is in effect or when the national public health emergency is over? 

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services determines when a national public health emergency declaration has concluded. 

(Added: 11/2/2020)

I am currently working reduced hours due to COVID-19, but this should only be on a temporary basis. Do I need to change my NHSC status from full-time to part-time? Is there any flexibility for Nurse Corps participants? 

NHSC understands that many participants may have temporarily had their working hours reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In certain situations, you may be allowed to, on a temporary basis, account for the time that you are not meeting the minimum 40 hour per week requirement as missed days on your In-Service Verification (ISV) without converting to half-time service.

If your reduction in hours lasts longer than originally expected, you may be asked to either convert to half-time service or request a suspension of your service obligation until you resume meeting the weekly hour requirements.

It is important to note that all participants who convert to serve half-time must fulfill the rest of their service commitment serving half-time; you will not be allowed to switch back to full-time service once you have converted to half-time service.

If you are having trouble meeting your clinical service requirements during this time, please contact a program analyst via the BHW Customer Service Portal to discuss your options.

Nurse Corps participants who are currently providing COVID-19 care (or looking for a site to provide COVID-19 services), must upload a letter from your employer to the portal with the following elements:

  • Must be on letterhead.
  • State the site address.
  • Include a statement that “the participant is being hired to work at the site due to COVID-19” and that “they will perform work that is directly related to support the COVID-19 response.”
  • Verify the hours of work directly related to support the COVID-19 response (and the date you started or will start providing these services).
  • The site Point of Contact (POC) must sign the letter. This site POC should be either an administrator or the person who will serve as the POC for NC and/or do any future paperwork for Nurse Corps.
  • Provide email and phone of the POC.

(Added: 11/2/2020)

My employment status has changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This might include the following:

  • My site has asked or is requiring me to transition to 100 percent telework or conduct all clinical work via telehealth; or

  • My service site has assigned/deployed me to an alternative location to accommodate patient triage, isolation, surge, or care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak; or

  • I am in a Nurse Corps Faculty Loan Repayment program and my institution has transitioned to full-time distant learning.

Is this allowable, and will this time count towards NHSC/Nurse Corps clinical service hours?

If your employment status has changed due to the COVID-19 national emergency as described above, you may request the following options through the duration of the national emergency:

  • Delivery of your regular clinical service to patients via telehealth/telemedicine to accommodate infection control, social distancing, or other appropriate measure to assist in meeting recommended outbreak reduction/control measures. NHSC and Nurse Corps providers may provide virtual check-in services via telephone, audio/video, secure text messaging, email, or the use of a patient portal.
  • A temporary expansion of the maximum hours you are allowed to provide patient care in an approved alternative setting. NHSC is increasing the maximum to 40 hours (from 8) throughout the duration of the national emergency declaration, assuming the alternative site satisfies any applicable NHSC service site requirements. Any clinicians who are licensed and completing their NHSC service are eligible to be voluntarily reassigned. The duration of the reassignment is on a case-by-case basis, however, it is not permitted to last beyond the declared public health emergency for COVID-19. For Nurse Corps, your alternative settings must be located in or serving patients on behalf of a CSF.
  • NHSC or Nurse Corps service credit for clinical care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at temporary locations.
  • Ability to provide 100 percent distant learning instruction (for Nurse Corps Faculty Loan Repayment Program participants).

(Updated: 5/11/2020)

I will not be able to meet the clinical service hour requirements of my contract because my site has closed, implemented furloughs/layoffs/reduced hours, or temporarily eliminated clinical service hours and is only permitting administrative work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What options do I have?

Through the duration of the public health emergency, we will consider granting a suspension of your NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year), if among other things:

  • You are unable to meet minimum clinical hour requirements (per your service contract) and
  • You anticipate exceeding your allotted 7 weeks (35 workdays per service year) of leave.

An approved suspension will allow you to remain compliant, while extending your obligation end date by a time frame equal to the approved suspension period.

Alternatively, if you face any of these circumstances and you wish to provide services in support of this public health emergency, you may be allowed to , on a temporary basis, provide care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at a temporary/emergency location or on behalf of a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) for Nurse Corps.

Service at emergency-related relocations would require approval by HRSA, and an emergency location Site Administrator/Point of Contact (POC) who would be required to verify that clinical service hour requirements and any applicable NHSC service site requirements are met.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

I am an NHSC or Nurse Corps program participant at an approved service site. I am continuing to fulfill my service obligation; however, I would like to offer additional assistance with COVID-19. How can I help while remaining in compliance?

Through the duration of the public health emergency, if you wish to provide services in support of the emergency, you may be allowed to on a temporary basis, receive service credit for providing care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at a temporary/emergency location, or on behalf of a CSF for Nurse Corps.

To receive credit for service at an emergency location, you must get approval from HRSA by submitting an inquiry through the BHW Customer Service Portal. A site Administrator/POC at the emergency location will need to verify clinical service hours on your In-Service Verification and that any applicable NHSC service site requirements are met.

You are not required to report or request approval for clinical service beyond your minimum hourly requirements.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

I am an NHSC or Nurse Corps program participant at an approved service site. However, if any of these situations apply:

  • I am pregnant and/or have an underlying health condition.

  • I and/or a loved one am/is currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive and will need to take extended leave to receive/provide appropriate care and or self-quarantine;

  • I am currently unable to return to my approved service site due to travel restrictions and/or mandatory quarantine requirements.

How do I remain in compliance with program requirements during this time?

If you exceed or expect to exceed your allotted seven weeks (35 workdays) of leave, you may request a suspension of your NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). An approved suspension will allow you to remain compliant, while extending your obligation end date by a length equal to the approved suspension period.

You may request a suspension of your NHSC or Nurse Corps obligation through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

Do I need to submit any documentation to verify my hours providing telehealth/telemedicine services or working at an alternative setting/emergency location?

No, documentation is not required. Once assigned to a site, verification of whether you meet the full or half time program hourly requirements is captured on your In-Service Verification. You will be notified in the BHW Customer Service Portal once the In-Service Verification is available for completion.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

I am unable to verify my service or complete employment verifications due to the following circumstances:

  • My site POC has been displaced or furloughed due to COVID-19, and is unable to access the BHW Customer Service Portal to verify my service; or

  • My site or institution has closed and my site POC has not or cannot verify my service.

What should I do?

We understand there may be delays and/or challenges in obtaining appropriate verification documentation because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you or your site’s POC experience issues completing verification documentation due to COVID-19, contact a program analyst via the BHW Customer Service Portal to discuss alternate options for obtaining verification forms and/or to request a verification deadline extension.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

I have defaulted on my service obligation contract and am currently unable to make monthly payments due to COVID-19 related issues (i.e. unemployed due site closure, layoffs, illness), what options do I have?

If you default on your service obligation and you have established a payment plan, but are unable to make monthly payments due to COVID-19 related issues, you should contact the Debt Collection Center to discuss options for a suspension of payments.

Requests must be submitted in writing to PscDebtServicing@psc.hhs.gov and include the following information: name, home and/or work address, phone numbers, and reason for requesting a suspension.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

Whom should I contact for NHSC and Nurse Corps information related to COVID-19?

If you are an NHSC or Nurse Corps participant directly affected by COVID-19, access the BHW Customer Service Portal to contact your program analyst and discuss your service obligation options.

(Added: 3/27/2020)

I am currently out of compliance with my service obligation. However, I am providing clinical care to patients in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Am I able to receive service credit for these clinical hours?

Through the duration of the public health emergency, if you wish to provide services in support of the emergency, you may be allowed to, on a temporary basis, receive service credit for providing patient care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at a temporary/emergency location, or on behalf of a CSF for Nurse Corps.

Service at emergency locations must be approved by HRSA and a site Administrator/POC at the emergency location will need to verify clinical service hours on your In-Service Verification and that any applicable NHSC service site requirements are met.

(Added: 3/27/2020)

NHSC and Nurse Corps Site Eligibility and Compliance

How can a non-approved NHSC site qualify to receive NHSC support during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Through the duration of the public health emergency, if NHSC participants wish to provide services in support of the emergency, they may be allowed to, on a temporary basis, receive service credit for providing patient care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at a temporary/emergency location, or on behalf of a CSF for Nurse Corps.

Service at emergency locations must be approved by HRSA. In addition, a site Administrator/POC at the emergency location will need to verify clinical service hours on your In-Service Verification and that any applicable NHSC service site requirements are met.

For sites not providing care to patients impacted by COVID-19 or sites interested in NHSC eligibility after the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHSC New Site Application cycle is closed. Sign-up to receive email HRSA Exit Disclaimer about future application cycles.

We understand that many potentially eligible sites will be impacted by COVID-19 and we will provide information as part of the site application cycle. Sites eligible for NHSC auto-approval can contact the Bureau of Health Workforce’s Division of Regional Operations (DRO) at any time of the year to discuss NHSC site approval.

(Updated: 6/5/2020)

Can our clinicians still apply for the NHSC Loan Repayment Programs even though we do not know how COVID-19 may affect our site and the services we provide in the coming months?

Yes. However, we've closed the most recent NHSC Loan Repayment Programs application cycle.

Sign up to receive emails HRSA Exit Disclaimer about future application cycles.

(Updated: 6/5/2020)

Can my site still apply for NHSC site approval even though we don't know how COVID-19 may affect our site and the services we provide in the coming months?

The NHSC New Site Application cycle is open through Tuesday, July 21 at 11:59 p.m. ET 

We understand that many potentially eligible sites will be impacted by COVID-19 and we will provide information as part of the site application cycle.

Sites eligible for NHSC auto-approval can contact the Bureau of Health Workforce’s Division of Regional Operations (DRO) at any time of the year to discuss NHSC site approval.

(Updated: 6/5/2020)

Is the HRSA staff still conducting NHSC site visits?

Yes, on a limited basis. NHSC site visits will be conducted virtually (e.g. via web or audio conference) to sites minimally impacted by COVID-19.

If COVID-19 impacts your site and a site visit is not feasible, HRSA staff will postpone the site visit. Contact Bureau of Health Workforce’s Division of Regional Operations (DRO) with further questions about NHSC site visits.

(Updated: 6/5/2020)

Can a health center who doesn’t have an NHSC clinician request one?

Health centers can recruit an NHSC clinician at any time by posting vacancies in their NHSC site profile on the Health Workforce Connector.

(Added: 5/11/2020)

Whom should I contact about NHSC and Nurse Corps sites impacted by COVID-19?

If you are an NHSC service site directly affected by COVID-19, you should contact your regional state lead via BHW Customer Service Portal and inquire how your site can remain compliant with its NHSC Site Agreement while supporting the COVID-19 public health emergency.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

NHSC Scholars or Students to Service (S2S) LRP Participants in School or Training

My school has transitioned to online classes. However, clinical hours cannot be fulfilled as the clinical site has turned away students until further notice. What should I do?

The NHSC Scholarship Program understands your concerns and this has been a common problem for students. We recommend that you obtain an official letter from your university that outlines your situation. 

If your graduation date is only delayed by a semester, you should remain in compliance with your contract, as long as your school verifies that you will be enrolled full-time during the additional semester. You are still covered under your current contract. We will use the letter to adjust your graduation date in the BHW Customer Service Portal.

If the new graduation date is pushed to later than June 30, 2021, you may be eligible to apply for a Continuation Contract, which will add another year of service after graduation.

(Added: 11/2/2020)

Will there be a delay in stipend payments due to COVID-19? 

NHSC continues to process stipend payments as it has prior to COVID-19. NHSC monthly stipend payments should be received by the end of each month.

Submit an inquiry through the BHW Customer Service Portal if you do not receive payment by that time.

(Added: 11/2/2020)

My board exam has been postponed. This may delay the completion of postgraduate training and potentially the beginning of my service commitment. How do I remain in compliance with my NHSC requirements?

We will work with you to help you remain in compliance with your NHSC requirements.

If you are a Scholar or S2S participant, you may request a suspension for up to one year to allow you to take the board exam. We will review your request and provide a suspension-approval time period, which will affect your service obligation start date. You must submit the following required documentation through the BHW Customer Service Portal:

  • A copy of the cancelled board notification.
  • A copy of the re-scheduled board exam, if applicable.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

I am a program participant completing my postgraduate training. However:

  • I am unable to continue training because my clinic has closed; or

  • I need to take a leave of absence from my residency program because I am or a loved one is affected by COVID-19.

What actions do I take to remain in compliance?

We understand that Scholars and S2S participants may experience changes in your postgraduate training due to COVID-19.

If you remain at the same approved postgraduate training program, you can submit an updated letter from the program director. The letter should include new training dates and be submitted through the BHW Customer Service Portal under the section “I Need to Submit a Post-Graduate Request” on the portal homepage.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

If my graduation is delayed, will this impact the NHSC HPSA score requirement?

If your new graduation date impacts your date of availability for NHSC service, you will be subject to the HPSA score requirement for the year you begin service. NHSC will notify scholars of the HPSA score requirements, once you are ready to begin your NHSC job search.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

My graduation might be delayed because my clinical rotations have been temporarily suspended, or my school shut down due to COVID-19. How will this impact my scholarship and/or service commitment?

We understand there may be adjustments to your program degree completion. For most scholarship recipients, we do not anticipate any changes to their support payments, as long as you are enrolled full-time and in good academic standing.

Scholars who are at risk of their financial support being impacted will be contacted by the NHSC staff directly. Learn more about what options you have if your graduation is delayed due to your school’s closing or suspended clinical rotations.

Please notify us through the BHW Customer Service Portal with your new graduation date as soon as possible. You will also be required to submit an Enrollment Verification Form and a letter from your school explaining your new graduation date.

We also recognize that you might face challenges in collecting the proper documentation. You may contact the program via the BHW Customer Service Portal to request flexibility in the submission of required documents.

(Updated: 4/16/2020)

NHSC Scholars or Students to Service LRP Participants - Site Searches

I just started my job search and have already found it difficult to find employment at a NHSC-approved site. Can I request an extension on my job search deadline?

We understand the challenges that sites are facing with hiring providers at this time, and how this affects your job search. NHSC encourages you to continue your job search for as long as possible.

If you are unable to secure employment within 30 days of your job search deadline, you can request an extension through the BHW Customer Service Portal or you can contact your Division of Regional Operations (DRO) advisor for assistance. 

(Added: 11/2/2020)

I was due to start my new job next month and was notified by my site that they are rescinding my offer of employment, since they cannot justify adding another provider at this time. Now that I have to continue my job search, will I receive an extension on my job search deadline?

We understand the challenges that sites are facing with hiring providers at this time, and how this affects your job search. Please contact your Division of Regional Operations (DRO) advisor for assistance and to request an extension if you need to continue your job search.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

My job interview request was already approved, but has been canceled/postponed until further notice. Is there anything I should do?

We understand that scheduled interviews have been impacted by COVID-19. Please notify us of any interview changes through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Once you reschedule your interview, please submit an updated interview request via the BHW Customer Service Portal.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

Nurse Corps Scholars

Will there be a delay in stipend payments due to COVID-19? 

Nurse Corps continues to process stipend payments as it has prior to COVID-19. Current Nurse Corps monthly stipend payments are not late until after the 15th of the following month.

Submit an inquiry through the BHW Customer Service Portal if you do not receive payment by that time.

(Added: 11/2/2020)

I just started my job search and have already found it difficult to find employment at a Nurse Corps approved site. Can I request an extension on my job search deadline?

Nurse Corps Scholarship participants will have up to nine (9) months from their date of graduation to

  1. accept an offer of employment, and
  2. commence full-time (or approved part-time) employment in the nursing capacity for which their scholarship was funded, with a Nurse Corps-approved CSF.

We understand the challenges that sites are facing with hiring providers at this time, and how this affects your job search.

Nurse Corps encourages you to continue your job search throughout your 9 month time period.

If you are unable to secure employment within 30 days of your job search deadline, you can request a one- time six (6) month extension through the BHW Customer Service Portal or you can contact your Division of Regional Operations (DRO) advisor for assistance.

(Added: 11/2/2020)

My school has transitioned to online classes. However, clinical hours cannot be fulfilled as the clinical site has turned away students until further notice. What should I do?

The Nurse Corps Scholarship Programs understand your concerns and this has been a common problem for students. We recommend that you obtain an official letter from your university that outlines your situation. 

If your graduation date is only delayed by a semester, you should remain in compliance with your contract, as long as your school verifies that you will be enrolled full-time during the additional semester. You are still covered under your current contract. We will use the letter to adjust your graduation date in the BHW Customer Service Portal.

If the new graduation date is pushed to later than June 30, 2021, you may be eligible to apply for a Continuation Contract, which will add another year of service after graduation. 

(Added: 11/2/2020)
 

I am a graduate nurse and have a temporary nursing license issued by my state because testing centers have closed in response to COVID-19. If I receive an employment offer at an eligible CSF before taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), would the temporary nursing license be acceptable in lieu of the permanent nursing license?

Nurse Corps will allow this if the state where you practice allows you to start employment with a temporary license as a RN during the COVID-19 public health emergency. You will need your full RN license before the expiration date of the temporary RN license.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

My state board of nursing is not issuing any temporary or permanent licenses at this time. My job search deadline is approaching. Will I be given an extension to find a job?

Nurse Corps is aware of the difficulties at this time with obtaining licensure in some states. Reach out to your Division of Regional Operations (DRO) advisor for assistance if you need an extension with your job search.

Submit a copy of the state board of nursing notification regarding license issuance delays via the BHW Customer Service Portal.

(Added: 4/16/2020)

Health Workforce Connector Emergency Volunteer Opportunities

Are you an NHSC or Nurse Corps Site impacted by COVID-19?

The COVID-19 outbreak is having an impact on health care facilities nationwide.

In response, sites on the Health Workforce Connector can now add an "Emergency Volunteer" option. Sites can also search for individuals who wish to serve as a "COVID-19 Volunteer."

(Added: 8/7/2020)

Are you interested in helping communities impacted by COVID-19?

A clinician or student can search for "Emergency Volunteer" opportunities at NHSC and Nurse Corps sites. These opportunities may be paid or unpaid, and full-time or part-time.

(Added: 8/7/2020)

Date Last Reviewed