My name is Alex, and I’m an HRSA National Health Service Corps Scholar. I know that probably just sounds like a bunch of acronyms and random words put together, but it’s actually a long-winded way of saying that I am getting my dental school tuition paid for in full. If you’ve ever considered any kind of professional schooling in the health care field, you’re probably aware of the crazy price tag on your education. For me, that's at least $300K for four years of dental school—not an ideal way to enter my future career!

So, here is where NHSC comes in: 

NHSC is a federally funded scholarship program for people pursuing education to be a Physician (DMD, DO), Dentist (DMD, DDS), Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), or a Physician Associate (PA). Upon applying, you indicate the number of years you wish to seek coverage for, which can range from just 1 year to your entire time in school (I chose to apply for all 4 years of dental school). You will also need the information for the school you will be attending, some personal general and background information, and then 2 letters of recommendation (one academic, one non-academic). If you do receive the scholarship, you will serve in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) after you graduate for the number of years you received financial assistance for. Pretty straight-forward. 

But what’s the catch?

There aren't many drawbacks to this program. I am fortunate to get my (very expensive) schooling paid for, and on top of that I receive a stipend every month! The only thing that turns some people away form this opportunity is that if you do intend on pursuing a post-graduate training program, NHSC does limit your options in which area of interest you can defer your service for. For example, if you really want to do surgery after medical school, you’re going to have to wait until after your service in the HPSA is done and then apply into that residency program. Personally, I have always been interested in pediatric dentistry, so I’m lucky that they approve 2-year residency training programs before starting my committed service. Another thing that you must consider is the concept of working in an HPSA after graduation. Some people want to go straight into private practice or corporate settings—not into community clinics or rural areas. You do generally have the opportunity to choose your HPSA site once you graduate, and I would encourage you to look at the HPSA Job Portal on their website. 

Why did I choose NHSC?

I’ve long been interested in public health and volunteered in community clinics during my undergraduate years and gap year. I got to see first-hand the disparities existing in the health care field—especially dentistry—in the communities surrounding me. I knew that either during dental school or after, I would want to work within these communities in some capacity. To be able to do so through NHSC while also coming out of dental school with no student loans is a dream come true. They provide me with the flexibility to pursue my dental education while also giving me the financial freedom to enjoy other pleasures and hobbies at the same time. I look forward to finishing dental school and learning more about pediatric dentistry. Beyond that, I look forward to entering underserved communities and applying my knowledge and skills to making their lives a little bit better. 

Great, where can I learn more?

Feel free to browse their website:

They also have other Loan Repayment Programs available if you’re already out of school too!

If you ever want to ask me more about my experiences or get additional information on applying, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.


academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT expository writing college admissions English MD/PhD admissions GMAT LSAT GRE writing strategy chemistry physics math biology ACT graduate admissions language learning law school admissions test anxiety interview prep MBA admissions academic advice premed homework help personal statements AP exams creative writing MD career advice study schedules summer activities Common Application history test prep philosophy computer science secondary applications organic chemistry economics supplements PSAT admissions coaching grammar law statistics & probability psychology ESL research 1L CARS SSAT covid-19 legal studies logic games reading comprehension dental admissions mathematics USMLE Spanish calculus engineering parents Latin verbal reasoning DAT excel mentorship political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches academic integrity case coaching chinese AMCAS DO MBA coursework PhD admissions Social Advocacy admissions advice biochemistry classics diversity statement genetics geometry kinematics medical school mental health quantitative reasoning skills time management Anki English literature IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs algebra algorithms art history artificial intelligence astrophysics athletics business business skills careers cold emails data science internships letters of recommendation poetry presentations resume science social sciences software engineering study abroad tech industry trigonometry work and activities 2L 3L Academic Interest DMD EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python STEM Sentence Correction Step 2 TMDSAS Zoom acids and bases amino acids analysis essay architecture argumentative writing brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum demonstrated interest dental school distance learning electricity and magnetism enrichment european history executive function finance first generation student freewriting fun facts functions gap year genomics harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law induction information sessions institutional actions integrated reasoning intern international students investing investment banking lab reports logic mandarin chinese mba mechanical engineering medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis music music theory neurology neuroscience office hours operating systems organization pedagogy phrase structure rules plagiarism pre-dental proofs pseudocode psych/soc quantum mechanics resistors resonance revising scholarships school selection simple linear regression slide decks sociology software stem cells stereochemistry study spots synthesis teaching technical interviews transfer typology units virtual interviews writer's block writing circles