The Role of the National Health Service Corps Clinicians in Enhancing Staffing and Patient Care Capacity in Community Health Centers

Authors: Xinxin Han, PhD | Patricia Pittman, PhD | Clese Erikson, MPA | Fitzhugh Mullan, MD | Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH

Topics: Health Information Technology, Rural Health

Research Center: GW Health Workforce Research Center

October 28, 2019

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a federal program aimed at increasing the number of health professionals in underserved communities. The program’s ability to influence the capacity of community health centers (CHCs) has not yet been investigated. This study examines the role of NHSC clinicians in improving staffing and patient care capacity in primary, dental, and mental health care in CHCs.

Using data from federally funded health centers and the NHSC from 2013–2016, this article examines whether NHSC clinicians complement non-NHSC clinicians in CHCs and whether their productivity, measured as visits per staff, is greater than that of non-NHSC clinicians in primary, dental, and mental health care. It helps validate the effectiveness of NHSC loan repayment and scholarship incentives as a recruitment strategy and to inform policies on the impact of NHSC on CHCs’ patient care capacity.

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