PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) has announced that the 2013 Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment Program application cycle is open through May 3, 2013. The program offers health education loan repayments to eligible health professionals who serve in a variety of disciplines, including primary care, dentistry, and mental health, that have made a two-year commitment to practice in underserved communities in Rhode Island.
The Health Professional Loan Repayment Board will review and evaluate all applications received from healthcare professionals and sites to determine program eligibility based on regulations and the availability of funding. A total of $250,000 has been allocated to the State of Rhode Island for eight to 10 awards, which are expected to be announced by the end of May 2013.
"This program is designed to address health disparities by improving access to care in underserved communities," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "I began my career working with underserved populations and it was both a humbling and inspiring experience. I encourage Rhode Island's health professionals to consider making this commitment to equitable access to healthcare."
Funding for this year's program came from local partners and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. Local partners contributing a total of $125,000 include the Rhode Island Health Center Association, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, United Health Care and the Rhode Island Foundation.
"The recruitment and retention of health professionals is a critical need for Rhode Island to provide comprehensive medical services, particularly in communities where access to care is difficult. The loan repayment program is a critical tool necessary to help ensure an adequate supply of professionals," said Jane A. Hayward, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association.
Information about how to apply for loan repayment assistance, individual and site eligibility requirements, and designations of underserved areas (as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration) can be found at http://www.health.ri.gov/grants/healthprofessionalloanrepayment/index.php
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