The Oklahoma Department of Health and its Office of Primary Care has recently launched a loan repayment program aimed at healthcare professionals working in underserved areas. Funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the initiative, known as 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 commit to two years of service in a National Health Service Corps-certified community facility located in a designated healthcare worker shortage area.
Applicants can receive varying amounts depending on their specialty: psychiatrists can receive up to $50,000 while physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, registered nurses, pharmacists and mental health clinicians can receive up to $35,000. It is important to note that awarded amounts will not exceed outstanding qualified education loans. Providers specializing in mental health and substance use disorders will be given priority, but additional providers in various disciplines will also be considered.
To apply for the program, interested individuals must sign a contract with the State Department of Health and commit to full-time or part-time service – full-time defined as 40 hours per week and part-time as 20 hours per week with at least 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 professionals in areas of significant need in Oklahoma. The goal is to support the healthcare workforce and ensure greater access to healthcare for people across the state. Interested applicants can visit the department’s website for more information on how to apply.