National Health Service Corps:

Program Unable to Meet Need for Physicians in Underserved Areas

HRD-90-128: Published: Aug 10, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 27, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the decline in the number of physicians in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

GAO found that: (1) the number of physicians in the NHSC scholarship program declined from 1600 in 1985 to 215 in 1989; (2) the scholarship program made nearly 10,500 health professionals, 80 percent of which were physicians, available for service; (3) other public health programs for the underserved helped to recruit physicians and other health personnel for their programs, but also relied on NHSC for staffing needs; (4) the lack of NHSC physicians and other professionals resulted in vacancies in community and migrant health centers; (5) the shortage of NHSC physicians constrained NHSC ability to meet the physician staffing needs of urban health programs; and (6) the one-time amnesty program and the loan repayment program were authorized to increase the supply of NHSC physicians for manpower shortage areas.

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