In a bid to tackle the shortage of healthcare professionals in certain areas of Oklahoma, the state’s Department of Health and its Office of Primary Care has launched a loan repayment program. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the initiative – called OK Health Corps – offers up to $50,000 to clinicians specializing in primary care, mental health, and dental health.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must work in community facilities certified under the National Health Services Corps and be located in designated health professional shortage areas. Psychiatrists can receive up to $50,000, while physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, registered nurses, pharmacists, and eligible mental health clinicians can receive up to $35,000. The amounts awarded will not exceed outstanding qualified educational loan balances.
Priority will be given to providers specializing in mental health and substance use disorders. However, additional providers in different disciplines will also be considered depending on available resources. Recipients must sign a contract with the State Department of Health and commit to either full- or part-time service – with full-time service defined as 40 hours per week and part-time service as 20 hours per week with a minimum of 45 weeks per service year.
Jana Castleberry, Director of the Office of Primary Care, believes that the program will help address the shortage of healthcare providers in areas of significant need within Oklahoma. The goal is to support the health workforce and ensure increased access to healthcare for people across the state. To apply for the program, visit the department’s website.