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

Jana Castleberry, Director of the Office of Primary Care at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, announced a new loan repayment program for health professionals working in shortage areas in the state. Known as OK Health Corps, the program aims to provide financial support for those committed to serving in underserved communities.

Under this grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, eligible health professionals can receive awards of up to $50,000 to help repay their qualified educational loans. To be considered, recipients must commit to two years of service at community facilities certified under the National Health Services Corps (NHSC), a federal program that supports providers through loan repayment. The facility must be located in a designated health professional shortage area and must fill out a site agreement.

Different amounts are available depending on the provider’s field: 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 applying for this program; however, additional providers in other disciplines may also be considered if resources allow it. Recipients must also sign a contract with the State Department of Health committing to either full- or part-time service with full-time equivalent being 40 hours per week and part-time equivalent being 20 hours per week with a minimum of 45 weeks per service year.

The goal behind OK Health Corps is clear: incentivize providers to practice where they are most needed in Oklahoma by providing them with financial support for their education debt while fulfilling their service obligation. Applications can be made through the department’s website for those interested in taking advantage of this unique opportunity to make a difference in underserved communities across the state.

By Editor

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