National Health Service Corps Helping to Bring Primary Care Providers to Under-Served Areas

The National Health Service Corps’ Corps Community Day is this Thursday, October 11th.  Click here to find out more.

RANDOLPH – When Dr. Josh Plavin was in medical school, a federal program supporting primary care providers, the National Health Service Corps, helped pay for some of his education costs.

“I was a National Health Service Corps scholar,” Dr. Plavin notes.

Upon graduation, the program required that he work two years at a National Health Service Corps approved site in a designated primary care shortage area. Dr. Plavin looked to rural Vermont.

“At the time there were no designated sites in Vermont with job openings,” says Dr. Plavin, who worked with his employer of choice – Gifford Medical Center – to have the Chelsea Health Center designated as an approved site. The site was approved in part because neighboring Tunbridge was, and still is, defined as a primary care shortage area.

That was in 2001 and Dr. Plavin served the Chelsea area as both a pediatrician and internal medicine provider for the next seven years.

Today, Dr. Plavin serves as medical director of all of Gifford’s primary care practice locations – in Berlin, Bethel, Chelsea, Randolph and Rochester. As such, he sees the benefit of the federal program from new eyes – that of a hospital administrator trying to staff primary care practices in rural areas.

“Medical school is so expensive that there are fewer and fewer doctors going into primary care because the simple math is it is not viable without loan repayment. It’s certainly not viable in a rural area,” says Dr. Plavin on what nationally is Corps Community Day, held today during National Primary Care Week.

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