The North Dakota Primary Care Office (NDPCO) is requesting $1,000,000 annually in federal funds through the Bureau of Health Workforce Division of National Health Service Corps. The purpose of this grant application is to increase the number of primary care, dental, and behavioral health providers serving in federally designated North Dakota Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) to target the healthcare needs of our state. The continued partnership between the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has been valuable in helping ND to increase the placement of healthcare providers in areas of greatest need. The NDPCO will work to: 1) Increase the visibility of the program through a number of educational efforts and partners; 2) Increase number of awards and providers placed in HPSA areas; 3) Verify compliance with eligibility criteria; and 4) Improve site satisfaction for greater ability to recruit and retain providers. Currently, 87% percent of the state is partially or fully designated as Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), 83% percent of the counties are partially or fully designated as Primary Care HPSAs, and 34 percent of the state's counties are partially or fully designated as Dental HPSAs. The state currently has loan repayment programs for physicians, advanced practice providers, dentists, psychologists, and behavioral health providers. Participating in the North Dakota federal State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) allows the state to expand loan repayment opportunities to pharmacists, dental hygienists and registered nurses working in primary care. NDPCO will administer the SLRP which includes physicians, advanced practice clinicians, mental/behavioral health providers, nursing, and pharmacy in the areas of greatest need. The loan repayment program is a valuable asset to improving healthcare access for our rural residents of North Dakota. This program has been successful in attracting and retainin
g providers to serve and remain in rural communities. In our current SLRP, the providers initially have a two-year commitment to serve in the community. Thereafter, they can request an additional loan repayment funding for a total of 5-year commitment as funds are available. This length of commitment provides them an opportunity to become vested in the community. NDPCO has awarded over 70 providers through SLRP including physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, psychologists, and pharmacists since the program began in 2013. The requested SLRP funding is a demonstrated need in continuing to recruit and retain qualified healthcare professionals in underserved communities.