Jana Castleberry, the Director of the Office of Primary Care at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, recently announced the launch of a new loan repayment program aimed at providing financial support to health professionals working in shortage areas in the state. Known as OK Health Corps, this program is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Eligible health professionals in the fields of primary care, mental health, and dental health can receive awards of up to $50,000 through this program. However, recipients must commit to two years of service in community facilities certified under the National Health Services Corps, 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 based on their discipline. Psychiatrists can receive up to $50,000, while other professionals such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, registered nurses, pharmacists, and eligible mental health clinicians can receive 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 when it comes to funding allocation for this program. Additional providers in other disciplines will also be considered depending on available resources. 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 and part-time equivalent to 20 hours per week with a minimum of 45 weeks per service year.
The goal behind OK Health Corps is to provide incentives for healthcare providers to practice in areas where they are needed most in Oklahoma as stated by Jana Castleberry. Those interested in applying for this program can do so by visiting the department’s website online today