Oklahoma State Department of Health introduces loan repayment program to address clinician shortages

Oklahoma Health Corps Program Offers Financial Repayment for Healthcare Workers in Shortage Areas

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and its Office of Primary Care have recently launched a loan repayment program aimed at providing financial support for health professionals working in shortage areas in the state. Known as OK Health Corps, the program is a result of a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is designed to help alleviate the critical shortage of healthcare providers in certain areas.

Under the OK Health Corps program, eligible health professionals can receive awards of up to $50,000 to help repay their qualified educational loans. To be eligible, recipients must commit to two years of service in community facilities certified under the National Health Services Corps, which is a federal program that supports providers through loan repayment. These facilities must be located in designated health professional shortage areas and must fill out a site agreement.

Different amounts are available for different providers, with psychiatrists receiving up to $50,000 and other professionals such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, registered nurses, pharmacists, and eligible mental health clinicians receiving up to $35,000. Amounts awarded will not exceed the outstanding balance of qualified educational loans.

Mental health and substance use disorder specialists receive priority under the program, and depending on available resources, additional providers in other disciplines may also be considered. Recipients must sign a contract with the State Department of Health committing to either full- or part-time service with full-time equivalent to 40 hours per week or part-time equivalent to 20 hours per week with a minimum of 45 weeks per service year.

The goal of the OK Health Corps program is to give providers incentives to practice in areas of significant need in Oklahoma as stated by Jana Castleberry, Director of the Office of Primary Care. Eligible individuals can apply for the program through the department’s website.

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