Online Program

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Area Health Education Centers (AHEC): Recruiting and retaining primary care providers in underserved communities

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Regina J Knox, MPH, CHES, West Central Alabama AHEC, Greensboro, AL
Amanda Scarbrough, PhD, MHSA, Texas AHEC East, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Rachel Little, Texas AHEC East, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Figaro L Loresto Jr., RN, BSN, Pmhc, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston
Introduction: Federal and state governments have traditionally sought to improve access to healthcare in rural communities by investing resources into the recruitment of primary care providers often in the form of loan repayment programs. The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provided funding to 36 State Primary Care Offices to conduct a two-year program called Retention and Evaluation Activities (REA. The primary goal is to examine retention of NHSC health care providers in underserved communities. Objective: The REA program in Texas utilized the Area Health Education Centers AHEC) system to provide personalized support to NHSC Loan Repayors, Scholars and technical support to NHSC clinical sites that fosters the retention of health providers. Supporting health care providers and students who are training for careers in primary care, behavioral health and dental care will help reduce health professional shortages in rural communities improving access to healthcare. Methodology: NHSC Loan Repayors and their clinical sites completed evaluations that measured 1) clinician work experience at their NHSC obligation site 2) strength of community integration and 3) clinician intent to remain at their obligation site after their service completion. Results: Preliminary results show a gap between being prepared to work in communities and being prepared to living in the communities that they serve. Approximately 66% of respondents felt very well prepared to work in the community compared to 45% who felt very well prepared to live in the community. Conclusion: Although retention of NHSC Loan Repayors in underserved Texas communities remains relatively high, improving community integration and helping clinical sites incorporate effective retention strategies may lead to even higher retention rates. Using collaborative partnerships to support practice entry and professional development of healthcare providers particularly those serving in underserved communities, can help improve provider retention. Implications for Public Health: Rural and medically underserved areas continue to face challenges in recruiting and retaining health professionals. Area Health Educations Centers can help like providers to the communities that they serve improving community integration and provider satisfaction that will utimately foster help improve retention.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
Describe the collaboration between the Texas Primary Care Office and the Texas Area Health Education Center East in implementing the Retention Evaluation Activities (REA) project. Compare retention data of ARRA-funded NHSC Loan Repayors in Texas to states that participated in the Multi-state Retention Evaluation. Summarize the lessons learned and the impact that similar partnerships can have on increasing access to healthcare in underserved communities.

Keyword(s): Workforce, Access to Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have assisted with the administration of foundation grants focusing on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities into health occupations. I previously managed a statewide program in partnership with the Texas Primary Care Office and all 19 Texas AHECs. The primary objectives of this program was to provide personalized support to ARRA-funded NHSC loan repayor and NHSC clinical sites that would foster retention of providers in underserved communities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.