You’re undoubtedly familiar with the customary ways of financing medical education – loans, grants and scholarships. Service commitment programs, which provide financial assistance to enrolled medical students or residents in return for physician services after completion of training, may be news to you.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program and Financial Assistance Programs, available through the Army, Navy and Air Force, but do you know that there are non-military alternatives? The National Health Service Corps offers both scholarship and loan repayment programs to students and clinicians who agree to practice in underserved communities throughout the country. Similar opportunities are available within individual states or regions.
The web site of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has an excellent searchable database of service commitment programs, including military, non-military federal, and state. In addition, don’t forget to check with your college’s premedical advising office and career office. Money is tight everywhere now, of course, and some agencies are not accepting applications at the moment. (The New York State Regents Health Professions Scholarship Program, to name one, does not have funding for the 2009-10 academic year.) If you’re about to embark on the medical school application process now, though, or if you’re looking ahead to 2010, it’s entirely possible that funding sources which aren’t available today will be back in business when you need them.