Complete details of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) chiropractic student loan repayment program have officially been published in the Federal Register. Up to 40 chiropractors will be allowed to participate in the demonstration project, which will allocate up to $2 million in total loan repayment contracts to qualified participants.
The chiropractic student loan program is a stipulation of House Resolution 4818, an omnibus appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 8, 2004. The provision outlining the program was sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), and received the full support of the American Chiropractic Association and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges.
Chiropractors who qualify for the program will serve at organized primary health care sites that have been designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). They must serve at HPSAs that have at least one NHSC clinician on staff, who will be fulfilling an NHSC service commitment concurrently through a scholarship or loan repayment program, and who is licensed to prescribe medications. Chiropractors are required to serve at an HPSA site for a two-year service period, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to continue serving once the initial service period is complete.
To be considered for the program, an applicant must: be a U.S. citizen or national; possess a current unrestricted license to practice as a chiropractor in the state in which they intend to practice; have graduated from a fully accredited, four-year chiropractic college; have successfully passed the entire National Board of Chiropractic Examiners licensing application; and be negotiating or have secured employment at an eligible community site.
While all chiropractors who meet the NHSC's eligibility are encouraged to apply, priority will be given to:
- applicants who "have characteristics that increase the probability of their continuing to participate in HPSAs after they have completed service"; and
- subject to the first stipulation, applicants from "disadvantaged backgrounds."
Preferences in funding will also be given to applicants who serve at Health Professional Shortage Areas determined to have the greatest shortage (based on HPSA scores).
A total of $2 million will be awarded to chiropractors accepted into the program. Based on a maximum number of 40 participants, the NHSC estimates that each chiropractor will receive an average of $50,000 in loan repayments.
Chiropractors interested in participating in the student loan reimbursement program can obtain an application by contacting the NHSC at (800) 638-0824 or by visiting http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov. Completed applications must be postmarked or delivered to the NHSC no later than June 17, 2005.
- Chiropractic student loan program details announced. ACA press release, Feb. 14, 2005.
- Chiropractic Loan Repayment Demonstration Project. Federal Register, Feb. 9, 2005.
- Congress includes DCs in Nat'l Health Service Corps student loan repayment program. Dynamic Chiropractic, Nov. 18, 2002. www.chiroweb.com/archives/20/24/12.html.
- Congress to direct $2 million to expand chiropractic student loan program. Dynamic Chiropractic, Jan. 29, 2005. www.chiroweb.com/archives/23/03/09.html.
- President Bush signs bill to include doctors of chiropractic in National Service Corps program. ACA press release, Nov. 7, 2002.
Michael Devitt is the senior associate editor of MPAmedia. You can contact him at (714) 230-3181 or