The Oklahoma State Department of Health and its Office of Primary Care have recently launched a loan repayment program known as OK Health Corps, which provides financial support to health professionals working in shortage areas in the state. This program is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Health 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. To be eligible, 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 amount awarded will depend on the provider’s 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. The amount awarded will not exceed the outstanding balance of qualified educational loans.
Mental health and substance use disorder specialists receive priority when it comes to receiving an award through the OK Health Corps program. Depending on available resources, additional providers in other disciplines may also be considered for funding. Recipients must 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 of this program is to give 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 this program can do so through the department’s website.[/