Utah's Health Care Workforce Loan Repayment Programs
Utah's Loan Repayment Program Overview
Utah is a large, geographically diverse state with a population of more than 3 million people. Of that 3 million, more than 1 million residents live in a small mountainous corridor known as the Wasatch Front. This small strip of land contains Utah's most populated urban centers such as Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden and Logan. The remaining 2 million residents are dispersed over large swaths of rural and frontier land spread over Utah's 3 distinct geographic regions: the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. Utah has a unique challenge as many of Utah's rural and frontier communities have geographic, economic, and physical barriers that inhibit access to high quality and affordable care. Utah has addressed these challenges by implementing two-state run loan repayment programs specifically aimed at health care providers. These programs: the Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance program and Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program, provide loan repayment assistance in order to increase health care access in rural and underserved areas, and reduce health disparities seen between urban and rural counties.
Health Care Workforce
Financial Assistance Program
The Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program is a state-run program designed to alleviate the disparity between low-income, rural and uninsured populations throughout rural and urban Utah. This program applies to nurses, mid-levels, mental health professionals, dentists, and physicians. The purpose of the program is to provide educational loan repayment incentives to qualified providers to work in rural and underserved areas for two-years. Since 2015 this program has successfully placed 28 providers in 13 different underserved and rural counties throughout Utah. This program allows rural hospitals and non-profit facilities a beneficial tool for recruiting and retaining health care providers to work in their facility and provide high quality health care to their community.
Rural Physician Loan
The Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program is a state-run program implemented to alleviate the burden of education student loan debt by providing loan repayment incentives to qualified medical physicians in exchange for practicing at a designated rural hospital or clinic for two-years. This program, unlike the Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program, is only available to physicians who provide primary or specialty care needed by the contracted site. Additionally, this program functions in cooperation with the Utah Hospital Association, and requires a dollar-to-dollar match by the contracting hospital and the amount provided by the Utah Department of Health. Similar to the Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program, the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program offers hospitals an additional incentive to recruit and retain qualified medical providers to work in their facility. This program also offers the ability to extend the contract for an additional year contingent on available funds.
National Health Service Corps
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provides qualified primary medical, dental, mental, and behavioral health providers the opportunity to practice in designated rural, urban, and frontier sites in exchange for having student loans repaid. National Health Service awardees can work full or part-time, with repayment amounts up to $50,000.00. Applicants have the option to continue their contract after the initial term, one year at a time, until their student loans are paid in full. As with other programs, continuation awards are based off of available funding and at the NHSC's discretion. The following providers are eligible to apply for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program: MD, DO, NP, CNM, PA, DMD, DDS, RDH, HSP, LCSW, PNS, MFT, and LPC.
National Health Service Corps provider distribution throughout the state of Utah.