The Oklahoma Department of Health recently launched a loan repayment program through a grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Known as OK Health Corps, the program aims to provide financial support to health workers working in underserved areas of the state.
Health professionals in primary care, mental health, and dental health are eligible to receive awards of up to $50,000 through the OK Health Corps program. Recipients must commit to two years of service in community-based facilities certified by the National Health Service Corps, a federal program that supports providers through loan repayment. These facilities must be located in designated health worker shortage areas and must complete a location agreement.
Different amounts are available for different providers. Psychiatrists can receive up to $50,000, while other professionals such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, registered nurses, pharmacists, and mental health clinicians can receive up to $35,000. Awarded amounts will not exceed the remaining amount of qualified education loans.
Mental health and substance use disorder specialists are prioritized for funding through this program. Depending on available resources, additional providers in other disciplines will also be considered. Recipients must sign a contract with the State Department of Health committing to full-time or part-time service with at least 45 weeks per service year or part-time equivalent to 20 hours per week with at least 45 weeks per service year.
The goal of the OK Health Corps program is to incentivize healthcare professionals to practice in areas of significant need in Oklahoma. Jana Castleberry, director of the Office of Primary Care said “We hope that this program will help us attract more healthcare workers to these areas where they can make a real difference.” Providers who wish to apply for the program can do so through the department’s website