The Oklahoma State Department of Health and its Office of Primary Care recently launched a loan repayment program through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Known as OK Health Corps, the program aims to provide financial support for health professionals working in shortage areas in the state.
Healthcare professionals in the fields of 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 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: 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. The amounts awarded will not exceed the outstanding balance of qualified educational loans.
Mental health and substance use disorder specialists receive priority, with additional providers in other disciplines also being 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 of OK Health Corps is to give healthcare providers incentives to practice in areas of significant need in Oklahoma as stated by Jana Castleberry, Director of the Office of Primary Care. Providers interested in applying for the program can do so through the department’s website.