Yesterday I received an e-mail informing me that I had officially been awarded a National Health Services Corps Scholarship for the remainder of my graduate schooling. This scholarship sends me through school, all reasonable expenses paid, in return for two years of service. That’s right, military style. Minus the boot camp, uniforms, and scary things. In explanation, allow me to give you a brief history lesson.
Some of you may remember the 1970s. I do not. I think my memories kick in around 1986. But I do have a good appreciation for things from the 70s including macrame belts, paisley shirts, Carole King, James Taylor, and the Emergency Healthcare Personnel Act.
This last item was signed into law in 1972 when healthcare professionals began realizing that they could make a whole lot of money by specializing and joining HMOs and practicing in big cities or generally urban areas. If I were practicing in the 1970s and the HMOs became a thing, I very likely would have followed the trend. So, no hard feelings. In fact, thank you 1972. Because of the way you turned out, the government allotted a certain amount of money to entice hard-studying future doctors, dentists, and nurses to stay in the world of primary care, particularly in rural areas. Since then, Congress has given varying amounts of money to this program based on healthcare shortages or surpluses. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment in the last few years, the program is expanding again. And I have joined the ranks.
Basically, the two years of service will be doing exactly what I have wanted to do since I started nursing school – work with the under-served, rural community. The only catch is that it may or may not be in Hawaii. Apparently, it is quite the hairy process to become an approved site. There are only a handful of them in the state and there is no way of knowing if they will have a vacancy with my name on it in two years time. But I plan to work my tail off to find that vacancy.
But I’m not worried. God turned my attention to nursing five years ago when Mom needed nurses. He made me think I could be one of those nurses one day when I was on Ala Moana beach listening to someone I barely knew discuss her new career. Two years later, I got through all of the prerequisites for this insane program, finished the insane program, and have jumped in with both feet to Nurse Practitioner graduate classes. And right when I start asking God if he really meant to pick me, he throws this scholarship at me and says “what now!”. So even if I end up in the middle of the desert in the middle of the country serving the least of the least, I will still be sure that he meant to pick me.
Hey, he thought of me in 1972.