As the Coronavirus/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
- NHSC and Nurse Corps Site Eligibility and Compliance
- NHSC Scholars and Students to Service LRP Participants in School or Training
- NHSC Scholars and Students to Service LRP Participants - Site Searches
- Nurse Corps Scholars
- NHSC Applicants
NHSC and Nurse Corps Clinicians
Whom should I contact for NHSC and Nurse Corps information related to COVID-19?
If you are a 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.
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.
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.
I am an NHSC or Nurse Corps program participant at an approved service site. However, if any of the following 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.
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.
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 and/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.
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.
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.
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).
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, we plan to open a new site application cycle on May 26, 2020. Sign-up to be notified via email when it opens. 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.
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.
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.
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. The NHSC Loan Repayment Program application deadline has been extended to Thursday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Can my site still apply for NHSC site approval even though we do not know how COVID-19 may affect our site and the services we provide in the coming months?
Currently, we plan to open a new site application cycle on May 26, 2020. 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.
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) through at least May 31, 2020 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. Please contact Bureau of Health Workforce’s Division of Regional Operations (DRO) with further questions about NHSC site visits.
NHSC Scholars or Students to Service (S2S) LRP Participants in School or Training
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.
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.
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.
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.
NHSC Scholars or Students to Service LRP Participants - Site Searches
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.
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.
Nurse Corps Scholars
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.
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.
My semester has been suspended due to COVID-19 and I cannot reach the faculty or staff at the university. How do I submit my Acceptance Report/Verification of Good Standing or Disadvantaged Background forms, which require a school official’s handwritten signature?
During the public health emergency, the NHSC Scholarship Program will accept the Acceptance Report/Verification of Good Standing and Disadvantaged Background Forms that have been completed with a PDF digital signature or Microsoft Word font signature of a school official. You can email the school to sign the form and then upload the form to your application.
I have not been able to contact my academic recommender and/or cannot meet the format requirements for the letters of recommendation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What can I do?
NHSC Scholarship applicants should verify that recommenders are capable of meeting the application deadline, prior to requesting a recommendation on their behalf.
- Academic letter of recommendation: Should be on university letterhead and be hand-signed, PDF digital signature, or Microsoft Word font signature. If an academic recommender is not available, NHSC suggests reaching out to an undergraduate professor or your academic advisor. If university letterhead is not available to the recommender, he/she may type the letter recommendation in university email, save it as a PDF, and upload it in the application portal. It must come from an academic institution and include the recommender’s signature block.
- Non-Academic letter of recommendation: Should be on an organization’s letterhead or have the recommender’s name, address, and date at the top of the letter. Letters must be hand-signed, use a PDF digital signature, or Microsoft Word font signature.
The financial aid office of my university has been hard to reach. How do I obtain a copy of the school’s tuition and fees schedule?
Most universities publish the tuition and fee schedule for the current academic year on their website. This information can be saved as a PDF from the website and uploaded with your application. This information will be verified prior to awarding a NHSC Scholarship.
Can I still apply for one of the NHSC Loan Repayment programs (LRP) if my employment start date has been rescheduled for after July 18, 2020?
Yes, you can apply to one of the NHSC LRP if your employment starts after July 18, 2020. During a public health emergency, the NHSC will extend the required date of employment to begin no later than September 1, 2020.