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How to Comply with Scholarship Program Requirements

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program (NHSC SP) awardees must comply with all requirements. We detail these in the NHSC SP Application and Program Guidance (PDF - 567 KB).

Requirements Prior to Your Service Commitment

Requirements Once You Begin Your Service Commitment

How to understand your contract

Your NHSC SP contract begins once you sign the contract and the Secretary of HHS or their designee countersigns it. Your scholarship support begins during the school years agreed to in your contract.

Before making changes to your service status (e.g., transfers, medical suspension, maternity leave, or half-time conversion) you must seek prior approval from the NHSC. Submit requests through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Can you receive additional support after receiving your award?

Yes. You may request contracts for subsequent school years through graduation for a maximum of four school years of support.

We grant continuation awards when appropriated funds for the NHSC SP are available and you meet all of the following requirements:

  • Enrolled full-time in academic courses leading to the degree for which we funded you;
  • You have an existing NHSC SP contract covering the school year in which you enrolled in a full-time course of study;
  • You are in good academic standing.
  • You comply with policies and procedures of the NHSC SP.

Note: You cannot request a continuation award after your existing contract expires.

Can you terminate your contract?

The Secretary of HHS (or their designee) may terminate your contract. Review your NHSC Scholarship Program Application and Program Guidance for details.

How to fulfill your service commitment

You begin service within six months of graduating from school or completing postgraduate training (if applicable).

When do you begin receiving credit for your service?

Credit for service toward your service commitment only begins after you do all of the following:

  • Pass required licensing and national certification exams.
  • Obtain a full, permanent, unrestricted health professional license in the state where you intend to practice (unless you have a license in another state and will work for a federal entity).
  • Begin full-time or half-time clinical practice at an NHSC-approved service site(s).

Can you delay your service?

You can only delay the start of service by requesting a suspension.

When does your service commitment end?

Your last day of service depends on the number of service years you committed to in your contract.

  • Example: You have a three year service commitment. Your last day will occur three years to the day after you begin service (e.g. start: July 15, 2019; end: July 14, 2022).

Can you serve longer at an NHSC site to receive more financial support?

You may be eligible to apply for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) after you complete your scholarship service commitment.

We consider applications to the NHSC LRP from scholars on a non-competitive basis.

How to complete your service hours

You must work a minimum number of hours per week full-time or half-time. That work must be within the profession for which you applied, and we awarded you via the NHSC SP contract, at your NHSC-approved service site(s).

Full-Time Clinical Practice

Upon graduation or approved postgraduate training, you must serve one year of full-time clinical practice. You must serve at one or more NHSC-approved sites for each full or partial school year of support you received.

You must serve at least two years and at most four years.

How do we define full-time?

We define full-time as at least 40 hours/week, for a minimum of 45 weeks each service year.

  • You must work at least four days each week.
    • You may not work more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period.
  • You must provide patient care at at least 32 hours each week.
  • We won't give you service credit for any hours you work over 40 hours/week.
  • There are additional rules by discipline and practice location.

Full-Time Clinical Practice Activities

  • Clinical-related administrative, management or other activities
    Count no more than eight hours toward the minimum 40 hours/week for these activities.
  • Teaching activities
    Count no more than eight hours toward the minimum 40 hours/week for teaching activities

Note: There are additional full-time clinical practice requirements by discipline. Review them in the NHSC SP Application and Program Guidance. 

Half-Time Clinical Practice

When you sign the NHSC SP contract, you agree to serve full-time. However, the Secretary of HHS may allow you to serve half-time under the following conditions:

  • Your NHSC-approved site agrees in writing that you may serve in a half-time clinical practice.
  • You are a federal employee or a private practice assignee.
    • We do not authorize half-time service for PPO practitioners.
  • You agree in writing (by signing an addendum to amend your NHSC SP full-time contract) to complete your remaining service commitment through half-time clinical practice for twice as long as your full-time commitment.

Note: If we approve half-time service, we will adjust your end date and allowable leave accordingly. Your minimum service period is four years and your maximum service period is eight years, if you start immediately after completing your training.

How do we define half-time?

We define half-time as 20-39 hours/week, for a minimum of 45 weeks each service year.

  • You may compress the minimum 20 hours/week into no fewer than two days/week.
    • No more than 12 hours of work in any 24-hour period.
  • You must spend a minimum of 16 hours/week providing patient care.
  • You do not receive service credit for any hours you work over the required 20 hours/week.
  • Additional rules apply based on discipline and practice location.

Half-Time Clinical Practice Activities

  • Clinical-related administrative, management or other activities
    Count no more than four hours toward the minimum 20 hours/week for these activities.
  • Teaching activities
    Count no more than four hours toward the minimum 20 hours/week for teaching activities.

Note: Review the NHSC SP Application and Program Guidance for additional half-time clinical practice requirements.

How can you serve half-time instead of full-time?

When you sign the NHSC SP contract, you agree to serve full-time. However, the Secretary of HHS may allow you to serve half-time under the following conditions:

  • Your NHSC-approved site agrees in writing that you may serve in a half-time clinical practice.
  • You are a federal employee or a private practice assignee.
    • We do not authorize half-time service for PPO practitioners.
  • You agree in writing (by signing an addendum to amend your NHSC SP full-time contract) to complete your remaining service commitment through half-time clinical practice for twice as long as your full-time commitment.

Note: If we approve half-time service, we will adjust your end date and allowable leave accordingly.

How do we verify your service hours?

If you have completed your training and are practicing at an NHSC-approved site:

  • Every six months, we verify that you fulfilled your service commitment by meeting clinical practice requirements.
  • We do this through the In-Service Verification (ISV) form. You complete and sign it, then send to your site administrator to sign and submit it through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Note: While we do alert you about the ISV submission, it is your responsibility to ensure that your site administrator submits it on time.

How to fulfill your service commitment during a mandatory furlough or reduction-in-force

We will work with you to fulfill your service commitment if your site faces a mandatory furlough or a reduction-in-force.

While we cannot waive the minimum clinical practice requirements or the maximum allowable absences in these cases, we will work with you to identify solutions.

What happens if you exceed the maximum allowable absences?

We will extend your service end date accordingly.

What if there is a permanent reduction in the number of hours you work?

If you are in full-time clinical practice, you may be eligible to convert to half-time clinical practice and have your remaining service commitment doubled.

Note: Once we convert you to half-time, you must complete the remaining service in half-time; there will not be an opportunity to switch back to full-time.

Are there alternatives to extending your service obligation or converting to half-time?

Yes, there are two alternate solutions to continue to receive credit towards your NHSC service. You may:

  • Find employment at an additional or alternate site to ensure you meet the minimum clinical practice requirements.
  • Request approval from your site to report to work and perform practice-related administrative activities (not to exceed eight hours/week) on scheduled furlough days.

Who should you contact for assistance in these circumstances?

Use the BHW Customer Service Portal to contact us.

How to follow leave policies

As part of your service commitment, we expect you to follow policies we set forth, including those related to temporary and permanent leave. If you do not follow our policies, you could risk a breach of contract.

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