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Workforce Programs

Introduction

The Primary Care Office (PCO) coordinates various workforce programs to develop, recruit, and retain primary care, oral health, and behavioral health providers for underserved communities. These include the National Health Service Corps scholarship and loan repayment programs; state loan repayment programs for primary care physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, and substance use disorder professionals; visa waivers for foreign medical graduates who practice primary care or subspecialty medicine; and targeted programs to promote oral health careers and incentivize dentists to  practice in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Free Clinics.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) assists underserved communities in recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals through its scholarship and loan repayment programs. In Ohio, coordination of NHSC programs is the responsibility of the Primary Care Office (PCO). The PCO provides technical assistance to potential and current sites in obtaining and maintaining NHSC site approval and promotes NHSC programs to potential participants. 

Sites that are interested in applying to the NHSC in the new site or site recertification application cycles are encouraged to consult with PCO staff regarding site requirements. The PCO can provide helpful information on eligible site types, Health Professional Shortage Area location, sliding fee scales, and other NHSC requirements. More information can be found on the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) website.

The NHSC offers a scholarship program and various loan repayment programs for primary care, dental, and behavioral health professionals who are interested in practicing in underserved areas. All programs require a minimum two-year or three-year commitment and may be fulfilled through full-time or half-time service options. For the specific requirements of each program, visit the following:

•    National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program website

•    National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program website 

•    National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program website

•    National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Rural Community Loan Repayment Program website

•    National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program website

Additional scholarship and loan repayment programs are available to nurses who are interested in serving Health Professional Shortage Areas through the Nurse Corps. More information can be found on the Nurse Corps website. 

Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program

The application cycle for the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program is now closed. Additional information about the next application cycle will be posted as soon as it is available.


Overview

The goal of the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program (OPLRP) is to increase access to primary care for underserved communities and populations. In exchange for loan repayment assistance, physicians commit to practice for a minimum of two years at an eligible site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Health Resource Shortage Area, accept Medicare and Medicaid, and see patients regardless of ability to pay.

For the first two-year contract, selected full-time applicants practicing a minimum of 40 hours per week may receive up to $25,000 annually for repayment of outstanding medical school debt. Those who remain at their practice sites and maintain eligibility may receive up to $35,000 annually for a third and fourth year of service. Part-time participants practicing between 20 and 39 hours per week may receive up to half the amount of full-time participants.

Physician Eligibility

The following primary care specialties are eligible:

  • Family Practice
  • General Internal Medicine
  • Internal Medicine/Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • General Pediatrics
  • Adolescent Medicine  
  • Geriatrics 
  • Psychiatry (General, Child and Adolescent, Geriatric)

Physicians applying to OPLRP must either be in current practice or in the final year of residency or fellowship training at the time of application. If applicants have existing obligations to a government or other entity, the obligations must be met prior to beginning a loan repayment contract.

Practice Site Eligibility

Practice sites must be located in a HPSA or Health Resource Shortage Area and provide primary and/or behavioral health services in an ambulatory setting. Generally, physicians who practice primary care must be located in a primary care shortage area and psychiatrists must be located in a mental health shortage area. Physicians who practice in an integrated care site may be located in either a primary care or mental health shortage area. In addition, sites are required to:

  • Accept Medicaid 
  • Accept assignment for Medicare 
  • Accommodate all patients regardless of their ability to pay

Free Clinics may contact ODH at the phone number or e-mail address below to determine their eligibility as an OPLRP practice site. Urgent care centers are not eligible practice sites.    

Forms and Resources

Ohio Dentist and Dental Hygienist Loan Repayment Program

The application cycles for the Ohio Dentist and Dental Hygienist Loan Repayment Programs are now closed. 


Overview

The goal of the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program (ODLRP) and the Ohio Dental Hygienist Loan Repayment Program (ODHLRP) is to increase access to dental care for underserved communities and populations. In exchange for loan repayment assistance, dentists and dental hygienists commit to practice for a minimum of two years at an eligible site in a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Dental Health Resource Shortage Area, accept Medicaid, and see patients regardless of ability to pay.

For the first two-year contract, selected full-time applicants practicing a minimum of 40 hours per week may receive up to $25,000 annually for repayment of outstanding dental or dental hygiene school debt. Those who remain at their practice sites and maintain eligibility may receive up to $35,000 annually for a third and fourth year of service. Part-time participants practicing between 20 and 39 hours per week may receive up to half the amount of full-time participants.

Provider Eligibility

The following dental providers are eligible:

  • Currently practicing general and pediatric dentists and dental hygienists with educational loans.
  • Dental residents in the final year of pediatric or general practice residency or in advanced education in general dentistry programs.
  • Dental and dental hygiene students enrolled in the final year of dental or dental hygiene school.

If applicants have existing obligations to a government or other entity, the obligations must be met prior to beginning a loan repayment contract.

Practice Site Eligibility

Practice sites must be located in a Dental HPSA or Dental Health Resource Shortage Area, accept Medicaid and accommodate all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Free Clinics may contact ODH at the phone number or e-mail address below to determine their eligibility as an ODLRP or ODHLRP practice site.

Forms and Resources

Ohio Substance Use Disorder Professional Loan Repayment Program

The 2021 application cycle for the Substance Use Disorder Professional Loan Repayment Program (SUDLRP) is currently closed.

For additional information, contact PCRH@odh.ohio.gov.


Overview

The goal of the Ohio Substance Use Disorder Professional Loan Repayment Program (Ohio SUDLRP) is to increase access to SUD treatment for underserved communities and populations. In exchange for loan repayment assistance, clinicians commit to practice for two years at an eligible site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), as well as in other high-burdened SUD areas of the state, accept Medicare and Medicaid, and see clients regardless of ability to pay.

Selected full-time applicants practicing a minimum of 40 hours per week may receive up to $25,000 annually for repayment of outstanding health professions education debt. Part-time participants practicing between 20 and 39 hours per week may receive up to half the amount of full-time participants. For both full-time and part-time participants, a minimum of 50% of their direct client treatment time must be spent providing SUD treatment.

Provider Eligibility
The following disciplines are eligible to apply:  

  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC)
  • Licensed Independent Marriage and Family Therapist (LIMFT)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Pharmacist (RPh)
  • Physician (DO/MD)
  • Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Clinical or Counseling Psychologist (PsyD/PhD)
  • Registered Nurse (RN)

If applicants have existing obligations to a government or other entity, the obligations must be met prior to beginning a loan repayment contract.

Practice Site Eligibility

Practice sites must be located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and/or in other high-burdened SUD areas of the state. In addition, sites are required to:

  • Accept Medicaid
  • Accept assignment for Medicare
  • Accommodate all clients regardless of their ability to pay

Preference will be given to providers being recruited or retained to practice at sites that offer services on a sliding fee scale based on 200% of the federal poverty level and are located in or designated as mental health HPSAs.  

Forms and Resources

Ohio Chiropractic Loan Repayment Program

The application cycle for the Ohio Chiropractic Loan Repayment Program is now closed. Additional information about the next application cycle will be posted as soon as it is available.

Ohio Health Professional Loan Repayment Program Application Packet


Overview

The goal of the Ohio Chiropractic Loan Repayment Program (OCLRP) is to increase access to chiropractic in underserved communities and populations. In exchange for loan repayment assistance, chiropractors commit to practice for a minimum of two years at an eligible site in a chiropractic health resource shortage area, accept Medicare and Medicaid, and see patients regardless of ability to pay.

For the first two-year contract, selected full-time applicants practicing a minimum of 40 hours per week may receive up to $10,000 annually for repayment of outstanding medical school debt. Those who remain at their practice sites and maintain eligibility may receive up to $5,000 annually for a third and fourth year of service. Part-time participants practicing between 20 and 39 hours per week may receive up to half the loan repayment amount that full-time participants receive.

Chiropractor Eligibility

Chiropractors applying to OCLRP must either be in current practice or in the final year of training at the time of application. If applicants have existing obligations to a government or other entity, the obligations must be met prior to beginning a loan repayment contract.

Practice Site Eligibility

Practice sites must be located in a chiropractic health resource shortage area and provide chiropractic services in an ambulatory setting. In addition, sites are required to:

  • Accept Medicaid.
  • Accept assignment for Medicare.
  • Accommodate all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Free Clinics may contact ODH at the phone number or e-mail address below to determine their eligibility as an OPCLRP practice site. Urgent care centers are not eligible practice sites.   

Forms and Resources

State Loan Repayment Program Fact Sheet

Current Poverty Guidelines

Ohio Chiropractic Loan Repayment Program Law (ORC: 3702.98 - 3702.9810)

 

J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The 2023 application cycle is open. Potential sponsors for the 2023 application cycle should complete and submit the Notice of Intent to Apply form as soon as possible. All applications must be postmarked by March 31, 2023.

2023 Ohio State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Application Packet

Notes for the 2023 Application Cycle

  • Application Submissions: Please note instructions for application submissions to the Ohio Department of Health.
     
  • Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) J-1 Visa Waiver Program: Applications that qualify for J-1 visa waivers through ARC will be submitted to ARC. For more information and access to application, please refer to the ARC J-1 Visa Waiver Program section below.

Application Tips

  • Please thoroughly read application instructions and forms and be sure to use only the 2023 application forms.  Check all documents for completeness, accuracy, and consistency before submission.  Please do not include large documents or extraneous information as part of the application. Only sections that are referenced in required application documents are acceptable.
  • Applications from sponsors who submit more than one application must have the same sponsor-identified representative named on each application.
  • Application reviews will include evaluation of the sponsor’s adherence to program requirements for current and past participants.

Overview

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) participates in the State 30 Program to increase access to healthcare services for Ohio’s underserved populations. J-1 visa waivers allow foreign medical graduates to remain in the United States after completing residency/fellowship training in exchange for a three-year commitment to provide healthcare services in underserved areas. In the Ohio State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program, underserved areas are defined as health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) for primary care and mental health; certain medically underserved areas/populations (MUA/Ps); and certain public, children’s, and critical access hospitals located in MUAs. Of the 30 slots available each year, up to ten "flex" slots may be used for placements outside of underserved areas if an adequate level of service to residents of these areas is documented. Qualified international graduates granted waivers must provide direct patient care for 40 hours per week and provide healthcare to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

The State 30 Program operates on the federal fiscal year. A non-refundable fee of $3,571 is required for each application. Recommendations for waivers in the State 30 Program are issued by the director of health to the U.S. Department of State (DOS). If DOS finds the state request to be in the public interest, it recommends the waiver to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the waiver-granting authority. 

Eligibility

The State 30 Program has a strong preference for primary care physicians and psychiatrists who will practice in HPSAs. Applications for other specialties are accepted with adequate documentation of community need. Physicians seeking J-1 waivers may not apply directly to ODH; applications are accepted only from sponsoring healthcare organizations. Sponsoring healthcare organizations as well as J-1 physicians must accept Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients, and must provide services on a sliding fee scale based on 200% of the current federal poverty level.

Program Priorities

The State 30 program maintains a preference for primary care physicians who will practice outpatient care in safety net sites located in HPSAs and physicians who will assist in meeting the state’s behavioral health workforce needs. Applications will be prioritized in the order listed below and considered in the highest applicable category.

Category 1: Primary Care and Behavioral Health – This category includes physicians who are completing post-graduate training in the primary care specialties of family practice, general internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, general pediatrics, combined internal medicine/pediatrics, adolescent medicine, or geriatrics and will practice in an outpatient setting. It also includes physicians who are completing post-graduate training in behavioral health, including general psychiatry, child/adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, or addiction medicine and will practice in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Physicians who have completed post-graduate training in other specialties will not be considered in this category.    

A.  Primary care specialties in primary care HPSAs and psychiatry specialties in mental health HPSAs, including state psychiatric hospitals designated as facility HPSAs. Physicians who practice primary care or psychiatry specialties in an integrated care site in either primary care or mental health HPSAs are also included in this category.

B.  Primary care and psychiatry specialties in MUA/Ps on 2023 lists (eligible public, children’s, and critical access hospitals in MUAs list and eligible MUA/Ps list).

C. All other primary care and psychiatry placements – “flex” slots (proposed practice site(s) located outside of a HPSA or outside of an MUA/P on the 2023 lists).

Category 2: Non-Primary Care – This category includes all specialties not named in Category 1 and primary care specialties who will practice in an inpatient setting (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes). 

A.  Non-primary care specialties in primary care HPSAs and psychiatry subspecialties in mental health HPSAs. Note that non-primary care specialties may not use a hospital-affiliated primary care facility HPSA to be considered in this sub-category.

B.  Non-primary care specialties and psychiatry subspecialties in MUA/Ps on 2023 lists (eligible public, children’s, and critical access hospitals in MUAs list and eligible MUA/Ps list).

C.  All other non-primary care specialties and psychiatry subspecialties placements – “flex” slots (proposed practice site(s) located outside of a HPSA or outside of an MUA/P on the 2023 lists).

Other J-1 Visa Waiver Programs

In addition to the Ohio State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program, J-1 visa waivers are available in Ohio through two federal agencies. These programs are open year-round and do not limit the number of visa waivers recommended per year.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

This agency provides J-1 visa waiver recommendations for primary care physicians who have completed their primary care or psychiatric residency training programs no more than 12 months before the date of commencement of employment under the contract and who will practice at qualifying sites located in HPSAs scoring seven or higher.

  • Application is made directly to HHS by the sponsor. The application requires that a request be made for a letter of support/acknowledgement from ODH.
  • To request a letter of support/acknowledgment from ODH, submit a signed official request letter from the sponsoring organization to the Director of Health that includes the following information:
    • Physician’s name and specialty.
    • Practice site name(s) and address(es).
    • Attestation that physician will spend a minimum of 40 hours per week in direct clinical primary care for a J-1 visa waiver obligation period of no less than three years.
  • Please note that the physician must have an active Ohio medical license in order for a letter of support/acknowledgment from ODH to be processed.
  • More information on the HHS clinical care waiver, can be found on the HHS website

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The Commission provides J-1 visa waiver recommendations for primary care and specialist (non-primary care) physicians who will practice at qualifying sites located in HPSAs within Appalachian counties. This program is open year-round and does not limit the number of visa waivers recommended per year. Applications that qualify for J-1 visa waivers through ARC will be submitted to ARC. A list of Ohio’s Appalachian counties is located under “Forms and Resources” below.

  • ARC J-1 Visa Waiver Program Ohio Placement Application Packet
  • Sponsors must submit application materials as outlined on the ARC J-1 Visa Waiver Program Ohio Placement Checklist, including the non-refundable application fee of $3,571.
  • Please be sure to visit ARC’s J-1 Visa Waiver program website and thoroughly review program policies and forms to ensure completion of application material.
  • A thorough review of all application materials will be conducted by the Primary Care Office before submission to ARC for consideration.

Forms and Resources

For more information on shortage area designations and Appalachian counties:

For more information on ARC, HHS, DOS or USCIS, please visit the following links:

Ohio Primary Care Workforce Initiative

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) distributes state funds to the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC) to operate the Ohio Primary Care Workforce Initiative (OPCWI). The ODH Primary Care Office works with OACHC to implement the initiative, which provides clinical rotations in participating FQHCs for students in various health professions to encourage primary care careers in an FQHC or other underserved area practice in Ohio. Rotations in FQHCs include medical, dental, behavioral health, advanced practice nursing, and physician assistant students who are enrolled in Ohio training programs or whose state of legal residence is Ohio if enrolled in an out-of-state training program. More information can be found on the Ohio Primary Care Workforce Initiative website.