The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) opened the application period today for the Rhode Island Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program, an annual campaign to recruit and retain topflight health professionals and put them to work building healthier communities in medically underserved areas.
Through the program, RIDOH has $350,000 available to make loan repayments for healthcare providers who serve in a variety of disciplines, including primary care, dentistry, and mental health, and who commit to practicing in underserved communities for two years.
"The Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program is one of many innovative ways that we are recruiting the best and the brightest to Rhode Island," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Rhode Island's healthcare industry is vital to the health of our overall economy. We need to continue making our state as attractive as possible for providers who are entering the workforce."
"The Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program is essential to our work to eliminate health disparities by ensuring access to quality health services and care in every zip code in Rhode Island," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Health. "I encourage all eligible healthcare providers to consider making this commitment to the health of our communities."
The Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program application period is opening one month after RIDOH revealed in its 2015 Statewide Health Inventory that the number of primary care physicians in Rhode Island is 10 percent lower than national standards for adequate access to care.
The Health Professionals Loan Repayment Board, which is chaired by Dr. Alexander-Scott and includes representation from healthcare organizations throughout Rhode Island, will be accepting applications until February 5.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided $175,000 and matching funds were provided by the Rhode Island Health Center Association, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Delta Dental of Rhode Island Fund, United Healthcare Community Plan, Landmark Medical Center, and CharterCARE Health Partners.
"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.
As a part of last year's Heath Professionals Loan Repayment Program 14 awards were made. The average award amount was $40,764.