Program funds requested: $4,000,000 Project Overview The State Office of Rural Health and Health Access has successfully administered the Tennessee State Loan Repayment Program (TSLRP) for the past eleven years, providing educational loan repayment assistance for primary care medical, dental, behavioral health providers, and substance abuse professionals to 203 healthcare providers throughout rural Tennessee. The proposed project will provide approximately 80 TSLRP recipients a total initial award of up to $50,000 in exchange for a two (2) year service obligation for full-time service or an initial two (2) year service obligation for half-time service per year of this 4-year grant budget. Practitioners with outstanding educational loan balances after completing their initial service obligation are eligible to reapply for continued funding in one (1) year amendments of up to $20,000. The TSLRP proposed project will also provide funding to Registered Nurses, an addition to the current TSLRP program to combat the severe nursing shortage throughout Tennessee. In addition to the Director for the State Office of Rural Health which has organizational oversight for the program, the project includes a full-time TSLRP Coordinator dedicated to program coordination, working collaboratively with the Recruitment and Retention Director, Rural Health Program Support Specialist, and the Primary Care Office Director. Clinical Priorities The Tennessee State Loan Repayment Program (TSLRP) has prioritized four HHS and HRSA clinical priorities to address provider needs and improve patient care outcomes: (1) Transforming the healthcare system through value-based care delivery and quality improvement initiatives by implementing a statewide Quality Improvement initiative; (2) Ending the crisis of opioid addiction and overdose in America (3) Improving access to mental health in collaboration with the Tennessee Division of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services through
provider recruitment, education, and training for safety net clinics and small rural hospitals in Tennessee; and (4) Transforming the workforce by targeting the need through the collaboration of internal and external stakeholders to guide recruitment and retention efforts to the most vulnerable, underserved populations. Outcomes The Tennessee SLRP will measure outcomes through customer services surveys to recipients during the application process and to recipients and their employees after placement. Additionally, retention studies are conducted in three-year increments to look at the completion of service obligation and longevity at site location. Additional health outcomes will be to (1) improve access to primary care by adding Registered Nurses (RNs) to the SLRP program; (2) increase recruitment and retention of behavioral health and oral health professionals in rural areas; and (3) implement prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions to reduce opioid overdose and substance abuse.