• Therapeutic Cataract & Refractive
  • Lens Technology
  • Glasses
  • Ptosis
  • Comprehensive Eye Exams
  • AMD
  • COVID-19
  • DME
  • Ocular Surface Disease
  • Optic Relief
  • Geographic Atrophy
  • Cornea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • LASIK
  • Myopia
  • Presbyopia
  • Allergy
  • Nutrition
  • Pediatrics
  • Retina
  • Cataract
  • Contact Lenses
  • Lid and Lash
  • Dry Eye
  • Glaucoma
  • Refractive Surgery
  • Comanagement
  • Blepharitis
  • OCT
  • Patient Care
  • Diabetic Eye Disease
  • Technology

NHSC Loan Repayment Program

Article

At this time, the NHSC Loan Repayment Program is open only to licensed primary-care medical, dental, and mental and behavorial health providers. Optometrists are excluded. That’s right. Excluded.

 

By Ernie Bowling, OD, FAAO

Most sources conclude the average medical student graduates with over $150,000 in educational debt.1 Unfortunately, that staggering number also holds true for optometry students. The average debt for members of the 2010 graduating class of the Southern College of Optometry was $121,852.2 An overwhelming amount, to be sure.

To help medical students deal with their debt, the National Health Service Corps offers scholarship and loan repayment programs in return for the doctor agreeing to practice in health-provider shortage areas. At this time, the NHSC Loan Repayment Program is open only to licensed primary-care medical, dental, and mental and behavorial health providers. Optometrists are excluded. That’s right. Excluded.

Optometrists have been recognized as health providers by the US Government (i.e., Medicare) since 1987.3 That we have been overlooked as a profession shows the short-sightedness (no pun intended) of the HPSC program. There are many areas in our country where Americans’ eye care needs are not being met, and their ocular health is just as important as is their physical, mental, and dental health. Allowing optometric participation in the NHSC loan repayment program would serve as incentive to attract interested optometrists to these underserved areas.

There is a movement underway to gain optometric participation in the NHSC loan-repayment program. The specifics can be found in Sandhya Ramsook’s article in this newsletter. Please consider adding your voice to this petition. The next generation of optometrists should receive the same consideration and opportunities from our government as our medical and dental colleagues.

References

1.    Based on data collected by AAMC, AMA and GL internal student database obtained by the student doctor network. Available at http://www.studentdoctor.net/2010/09/common-mistakes-whwn-repaying-student-loan-debt/#more-3484. Accessed 3/27/2013.

2.    Hayes J, Anderson KK. Don't sweat your debt. Optometric Management, 11/10/2010.

3.    American Optometric Association. History of Optometry. Available at: http://fs.aoa.org/optometry-archives/optometry-timeline.html.Accessed 3/28/2013.

 

Related Videos
Raman Bhakhri, OD, FAAO, overviews his talk on medications' potential side effects on the retina with Optometry Times
Jacobi Cleaver, OD, FAAO
Jade Coats, OD, overviews a lecture on ocular pain and patient care
Jade Coats, OD, outlines two poster presentations she gave on a novel lipid-containing eye drop at the AOA Optometry's Meeting
Adam Alexander, OD, chats with Optometry Times about his AOA e-poster presentation on Miebo
Lorraine Provencher, MD, presenting slides
Megan Cavet, PhD
Nazlee Zebardast, MD, MSc, overviews her ARVO 2024 presentations on glaucoma and polygenic risk scores
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.