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Nurse Notes Newsletter

Nurse Corps Newsletter header

January 2013

Introducing NURSE Corps!

Welcome to the first edition of the NURSE Notes NEWSLETTER!  We have developed this quarterly publication for participants in the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program (SP) and the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (LRP). This new tool is a one-stop-shop for the news, resources and information you need to be up-to-date and successful in meeting your program requirements.  It will also communicate important program changes, share stories about the impact nurses and nurse practitioners are having in their communities, answer your questions, and much, much more!

We have some big plans for 2013. This year, NURSE Corps SP and NURSE Corps LRP have come together under a new name and identity:

NURSE Corps: Caring for Communities in Need.  

Even though the name may be new, these are still the same great programs you have come to know that support a community of nurses and nurse practitioners sharing a common mission and goal: to provide high-quality health care to the communities that need it the most.  Below are just a few of the added benefits of the new name and identity:

  • An easier way to talk about and identify your participation with your program.
  • New NURSE Corps Web Site.
  • Coming soon! NURSE Corps Facebook page providing a new way to connect with each other.
  • Coming soon! New Member Stories from the Field Series.

Despite all of these great additions, we still need your help to build the NURSE Corps community. We’re asking for your assistance in bringing more passionate and talented professionals into these programs. The 2013 NURSE Corps LRP application cycle opens today and the next NSP application cycle will open later this year, and we need you to share these opportunities with nurses and nurse practitioners, tell them about the NURSE Corps, and encourage them to apply. The new NURSE Corps is only as strong as its members – and we know there are many exceptional applicants out there! More application information can be found here, NURSE Corps: Follow Your Passion to Help & Heal.

Remember to look for the next quarterly newsletter in April.  We will reach out soon on how you can share your suggestions for content in future issues. We are excited about having you help us build an even more successful NURSE Corps in 2013!

Program Related Updates

In 2012, there were 720 NURSE Corps LRP awards and 230 NURSE Corps SP base awards.

In the FY 2012 application cycles, the NURSE Corps LRP and SP made significant policy changes in the way they operate their programs.  Learn more about the new definition for critical shortage facility (CSF), the “tiered” funding preference, and the set-aside funding for nurse practitioners in the NURSE Corps programs and how they will help bring providers to areas with the greatest need.

A Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) is a health care facility located in, designated as, or serving a primary medical care or mental health Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Visit Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program Eligibility Requirements for additional information regarding CSFs.

NURSE Corps Stories from the Field

Nurses are making a difference in communities across the country.  Learn more about NURSE Corps Scholars and Loan Repayors who are providing primary health care to those who need it most!

Haley McMackin RNHaley McMackin, RN
NURSE Corps Scholar
Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Phoenix, AZ

For Haley, nursing came as a second career.  After she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2002, Haley worked as an early childhood intervention coordinator for children from birth to age 3 with developmental challenges like learning disabilities or more serious conditions that were a result of a birth defect. 

During this time, she found herself drawn to assisting children who were challenged because of a specific health condition. Haley began to research health careers and found nursing.  She was accepted to Northern Arizona University’s School of Nursing in the accelerated BSN 2nd degree option program.   She started school in May 2009; however, this decision had the potential to impact her family significantly. 

Since Northern Arizona University was a two-hour commute, Haley began to look for scholarships to help defer tuition and commuting expenses.  She learned about the NURSE Corps SP online and submitted her application in the spring of 2009.  Haley was accepted into the program and began receiving the scholarship award at the end of September 2009.  In 18 months, she completed her Bachelors of Science degree in nursing.

Haley is now serving her NURSE Corps Scholars service commitment at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  She is a pediatric oncology nurse and plans to stay long after her commitment ends in February 2013.  The NURSE Corps SP made her goal a “reality,” as she now spends her time providing care for underserved children in Northern Arizona.  Haley reflected, “It is nice knowing that our federal government (through the NURSE Corps SP) supports the field of nursing, especially for those patients who are in dire need of health care.”

Making a difference in the lives of children everyday that are often at the Children’s Hospital for weeks on end confirms for Haley that she chose the right profession.  The hospital often becomes a child’s “second home” and she realizes she plays an important role in addressing the health care needs of children who are gravely ill.

The support she received from BCRS during her training was outstanding, according to Haley.  She notes Ms. Maggie Carrera, an analyst in the NURSE Corps SP, was so “responsive” to her requests.   Haley now recommends the program to students who rotate through the hospital and encourages them to apply even if they are half-way into their training programs.  Ms. Haley McCracken is truly a nursing success story.

NURSE Corps Stories from the Field

Alicia Donahue RN Alicia Donahue, RN
NURSE Corps Loan Repayor
Newark Beth Israel Hospital and Horizon Community Health Center
Newark, NJ

A native of New Hampshire, Alicia Donahue moved to Newark, NJ after she got married.  She began her career as a speech pathologist, but after some time, realized she wanted to help people in a more comprehensive way.  She went to nursing school at New York University via an accelerated program and discovered she loved nursing.

In 2007, Alicia was working as a staff nurse at the Newark Beth Israel Hospital when she learned of the NURSE Corps LRP from a co-worker who had recently applied.  According to Alicia, “only 5 percent of Newark’s patient population has health insurance,” making Newark one of New Jersey’s most underserved areas.  At one point, her student loan payments exceeded her salary.  According to Alicia, so many of the financial opportunities for nurses are scholarships for students, so she was thrilled to hear about NURSE Corps LRP and its opportunities for working professionals.  In the fall of 2008, she successfully applied and received the NURSE Corps LRP award.

Working at Beth Israel changed Alicia’s life and the lives of the many premature babies in the neo-natal, intensive care unit.  Many of the families she worked with had little or no health insurance; extensive medical complications such as drug addictions were further compounded by language barriers.  In fact, Alicia remembers one baby whose mother did not receive pre-natal care who was born prematurely at 22 weeks.  Alicia cared for the baby in the neo-natal unit for 6 months and eventually the baby was able to go home.  It was truly a success story and each year the mother sends Alicia an updated picture of her baby who Alicia “nursed” to health.

While Alicia enjoyed her NURSE Corps LRP service commitment at Beth Israel Hospital, she was laid off due to an economic downturn.  She was unemployed with just 3 months remaining on her service obligation and faced the possibility of being placed into default.  Alicia reached out to NURSE Corps LRP staff for assistance, and together with Robbin Rowe in the Division of Program Operations and Jennifer Sermas in the Division of Regional Operations New York office, was able to secure a job at Horizon Community Health Center in Newark where she was able to successfully complete her NURSE Corps obligation. 

She is a new mother and plans to return to work in Paterson, NJ, a city even more medically underserved than Newark.  Alicia continues to fulfill the HRSA/BCRS mission – she remains committed to ensuring that underserved patients get access to needed services.  She has accepted a position working for a transport company that helps patients transfer from emergency rooms to hospitals where needed surgery is performed, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for surgery.  She says she will recommend the NURSE Corps LRP to other applicants, since the program allowed her to maintain quality of life, while serving the underserved patients in Newark.

Frequently Asked Questions about “My Portal Account” exit icon

Over the past year, we have collected FAQs from our participants and plan to post them in the NURSE Notes Newsletter.

1. How do I change my password or email?

You can change your password and email address through Account Settings that can be found in the navigation bar at the top of the homepage.

2. What is “My Recent Requests”

The My Recent Requests section of the homepage contains all the requests you have submitted after September 1, 2010.

3. What does it mean if my request is not visible in My Recent Requests?

Only requests that have been submitted after September 1, 2010 are visible in My Recent Requests. This includes requests submitted through mail, email and phone.  You may also access requests made prior to September 2010.

4. What is a Six-Month Verification Form and Where Can I find It?

A Six-Month Verification Form is a document used to confirm your hours and place(s) of employment.  BCRS will contact you through email – every six months – with a link to the portal when it is time for you to submit this information.

5. What is a service year?

For Scholarship Participants: A service year is one year from your work start date minus one day. Your work start date is the first day you began working at your approved site. All advanced training programs (for which a deferment is granted) and licensure/certification requirements must be met before you begin service at your approved site. Your service year is not impacted by approved suspensions, breaks in service, or days away from your approved site.

6. What Does My Participant Status Mean?

Your Participant Status indicates your position (i.e., Scholarship Program or Loan Repayment Program) as well as your current status in the program. Your status can change depending on various situations: whether you are in-service, completed your service, in default, under suspension, etc.  Please check in regularly to make sure your status information is correct and up-to-date.

7. What Are the Privacy Forms Used For?

The Privacy Act Release Authorization to BCRS Form is used to permit outside entities such as hospitals and physicians, to give BCRS information about you.  The Privacy Act Release Authorization to Third Party Form gives BCRS permission to collect necessary information from outside entities to process your requests.

Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) For Upcoming Webinars for 2013

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recently  announced the formation of the new Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) created to provide high value programs, services, and resources to nursing students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs.  Through the GNSA, AACN will focus on meeting the professional development needs of graduate nursing students who are poised to assume leadership roles within the profession, including service as future faculty members and researchers. For additional details, view the Webinar Schedule at AACN Upcoming Webinars exit icon.

Support the Million Hearts Initiative

Million Hearts exit icon is a national initiative launched by the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over 5 years.  This campaign aligns existing efforts and is creating new programs to improve heart health and help Americans live longer, more productive lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—co-leaders of Million Hearts—are working alongside other Federal agencies and private and public-sector organizations to make a lasting impact on cardiovascular disease.

To strengthen support and advance the initiative, Million Hearts is forming a collaborative of Colleges of Nursing across the United States to engage nursing faculty and students to lead initiatives in their universities.  By putting together a team of nursing colleges to advance this work, Million Hearts can enhance students’ knowledge and skills in population health and healthy lifestyle behavior change.  Joining this collaborative provide access to useful tools and best and innovative practices to advance the initiatives of Million Hearts.

If you are interested in having your school join this collaborative, please email Kathy York at with the contact information of the lead faculty liaison who will represent your college in this exciting collaborative.

 *This publication may contain non-Federal resources in order to provide additional information to consumers. The views and content in these resources have not been formally approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Listing these resources is not an endorsement by HHS or HRSA.

Shout Out to a Former NURSE Corps LRP

Nakia Charmaine Best, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a former NURSE Corps LRP.  Congratulations Nakia for being selected as one of the new Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars.  Nakia will be joining the 48 scholars previously selected for this prestigious honor, all of whom are enrolled in PHD nursing programs.