Rhode Island is entering the second year of a program that repays medical school loans for doctors in underserved areas. The program, which is also open to nurses, aims to attract more doctors to the places that need them the most.
Last year, applicants won an average of $40,000 in repayments for agreeing to serve two years in a needy community. Rhode Island Health Center Association CEO Jane Heyward says the program is attractive to medical school graduates with huge loan debts. But it could be a boon for community health centers, too.
“Attracting, recruiting, and retaining licensed health professionals is very difficult," said Heyward. "Because frequently they are not able to compete with salaries paid by private practices or hospital-based practices.”
Rhode Island’s Department of Health has $350,000 set aside to award to applicants who meet the criteria. Last year, 14 primary care health professionals received help repaying their loans.