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. The program, known as OK Health Corps, aims to provide financial support for health professionals working in shortage areas in the state.
Healthcare providers 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. To be considered, 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.
The amounts awarded will not exceed the outstanding balance of qualified educational loans. Mental health and substance use disorder specialists receive priority, and 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 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.
Jana Castleberry, Director of the Office of Primary Care at Oklahoma State Department of Health stated that “The goal is to give providers incentives to practice in areas where they’re needed most.” This program will provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals who want to work in underserved communities while also providing them with financial support for their education loans. Providers interested in applying can do so through the department’s website.