The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Office of Primary Care (OKPCO), seeks funding to operate an Oklahoma State Loan Repayment Program (OK-SLRP). The purpose of this program is to increase the number of primary, mental health, and dental care providers working in health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) and facilities. By supporting health professionals that provide care to at-risk populations with higher rates of chronic disease and poor mental health, the OK-SLRP aims to move forward state goals to reduce health disparities in rural and ethnic minority populations. The goals of the OK-SLRP are: • Recruit and retain health care professionals to health professional shortage areas • Strengthen state level partnerships and collaboration between state and federal programs • Decrease health disparities • Increase access to primary care services The OK-SLRP will make awards of $50,000 to a total of 72 providers in exchange for two years’ service commitment at a National Health Service Corps site. The OK-SLRP will prioritize awards to providers who address mental health and substance use disorders in Oklahoma with a first-tier funding preference for applications from providers that work in community mental health centers or substance use disorder treatment facilities or from mental health providers working in community health centers or Tribal health facilities. If funding remains in a cycle, the OK-SLRP will provide second tier funding preference for additional discipline types working in facility types and underserved areas that are not currently eligible for other state loan repayment programs. To ensure maximum impact and a broad range of applicants, the OK-SLRP will conduct targeted outreach and provide technical assistance and training to potential NHSC sites and providers. The OK-SLRP has been developed in partnership with a broad range of state health workforce stakeholders. Upon funding, the OSDH OKPCO will establish an
OK-SLRP Advisory Council that will aim to strengthen coordination and collaboration between state and federal programs that address Oklahoma’s health workforce shortages. Members of this council will make data-driven recommendations about the OK-SLRP program and will work within their spheres of influence to provide necessary data, promote and integrate OK-SLRP into existing workforce development efforts, and create a sustainability plan that will ensure the permanent establishment of OK-SLRP in Oklahoma. The OK-SLRP will be operated by the OSDH OKPCO. As a division of the OSDH Community Development Services, the OKPCO works with other CDS divisions, the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, Office of Tribal Liaison, Community Analysis and Linkages, Community Health and Community Health Worker Programs. As a service area, these offices work as a team to integrate the OK-SLRP into state and community-based implementation of strategies aimed at improving health outcomes of Oklahoma’s rural, minority, Tribal, and underserved populations.