Nursing student Justine Cole works on drawing insulin Tuesday at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
Nursing student Justine Cole works on drawing insulin Tuesday at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
SOUTH BEND — A shortfall of nurses in this region and other parts of the country has posed a big challenge for medical providers. But a proposed federal bill aims to help tackle the problem by offering opportunities for nurses to pay off student loans by working in the private sector.

The Nursing Where It's Needed Act, introduced this month by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R, Ind.) and Doug Jones (D, Ala.), would allow more medical providers within "health professional shortage areas" to participate in the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program by expanding its eligibility to include for-profit providers.

As it stands, only nonprofit and public-sector providers may be certified for the program. In exchange for two years of service at certified sites, the program pays for 60 percent of unpaid nursing education debt for registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses. 

In St. Joseph County, records show 15 facilities are currently certified for the program. Among others, sites include Memorial Hospital, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph County VA Clinic and the St. Joseph County Health Department.

In north-central Indiana, St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties are eligible for certified sites under the program. That is because based on their low-income populations, the counties are classified as health professional shortage areas.

Young was not available Tuesday afternoon for comment.

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