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American Indian/ Alaska Native Health

Health Workforce

Building the health workforce is a top priority for HRSA and the foundation of improved health care access for underserved communities.

Through a mix of scholarship, loan and loan repayment programs plus grants that support health professions training programs, HRSA develops a workforce that is prepared and motivated to care for underserved people.

Scholarships and Loans

National Health Service Corps helps underserved communities recruit and retain primary care medical, dental and mental health clinicians. Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities are automatically approved NHSC service sites.

  • National Health Service Corps Scholarship pays tuition, fees and a living stipend in exchange for service at an approved site in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds and who are more likely to work in underserved areas after completing their service commitment receive a funding preference. 
  • National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment helps clinicians at approved sites in undeserved areas repay student loans. Participants receive $50,000 (or the outstanding balance if it is less than $50,000), with the potential for additional funding for extended service. Clinicians from disadvantaged backgrounds and who are more likely to work in underserved areas after completing their service commitment receive a funding preference.
  • National Health Service Corps Communities/Sites can recruit NHSC-eligible clinicians. Indian Health Service health centers and other outpatient providers serving American Indian/Alaska Native populations are eligible to apply.

Nursing Scholarship Program pays tuition, fees and a living stipend in exchange for service at an eligible site, including Indian Health Service health centers and hospitals. Preference is given to students with financial need.

Loans for disadvantaged students and other loans programs provide funds to eligible health professions training programs, which then make loans to students with financial need.

Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program helps registered nurses repay student loans in exchange for service at eligible non-profit facilities, including Indian Health Service health centers and hospitals.

Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program for Nurse Faculty helps nurse faculty repay student loans in exchange for service at public or private non-profit accredited schools of nursing.

Faculty Loan Repayment Program for health professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds provides as much as $40,000 for 2 years of service as faculty at eligible accredited training programs.

Health Professions Training Program Grants

Minority Faculty Fellowship grants increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty at health professions schools. The grants enable eligible schools to provide a stipend and a training allowance to help underrepresented minority students gain the skills necessary for faculty positions and provide health services to rural or medically underserved populations.

  • Northern Arizona University Department of Dental Hygiene Go to exit disclaimer. recruited an American Indian fellow from the Lakota tribe who has been instrumental in involving students in community service projects on reservations and has coordinated the Ottens’ Dental Hygiene Hopi Health Care project which successfully integrated dental hygiene services on the Hopi reservation. This project provided oral health education and dental hygiene services to American Indians, by rotating dental hygiene students to the Hopi Dental Clinic on a regular basis. It also provided an opportunity to recruit Hopi young people into the health professions.

Area Health Education Centers are partnerships between communities and academic institutions that train health professionals. AHECs reach out to young people in underserved communities and help them develop the skills needed to become health professionals, provide clinician training experiences in underserved communities, and provide continuing education to clinicians already working in those communities. 

Centers of Excellence are health professions schools that establish or expand programs for underrepresented minority students and faculty. They focus on improving academic performance, developing minority health curricula and clinical education, and conducting research on minority health issues. 

Learn More

Native American Center of Excellence logo.

Native American Center of Excellence at University of Montana
funded by HRSA Centers of Excellence grant program