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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 (OPLRP) is closed.  Applications postmarked by Feb. 15, 2020 will be reviewed, and applicants will be notified when funding decisions have been made.


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 2021 application cycle for the Ohio Dentist and Dental Hygienist Loan Repayment Programs closed on April 24, 2021. The next application cycle will be held in 2022. For more information, or to receive a notification when the 2022 application cycle opens, contact Star Sawicki at Star.Sawicki@odh.ohio.gov.


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 Tina Krempasky at Tina.Krempasky@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

J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The 2022 application cycle is open. Potential sponsors for the 2022 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, 2022.

Notes for the 2022 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, please refer to the ARC J-1 Visa Waiver Program section below.

2022 State 30 and ARC Application packet

Application Tips

  • Please thoroughly read application instructions and forms and be sure to use only the 2022 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 2022 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 2022 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 2022 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 2022 lists).

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. A list of Ohio’s Appalachian counties is located under “Forms and Resources” below.

  • All applications for placements located in HPSAs within Appalachian counties must meet both State 30 and ARC requirements.
  • Sponsors must submit application materials as outlined on the Appalachian Ohio HPSA Placement Checklist, including the non-refundable application fee of $3,571.
  • Sponsors must also submit the following additional ARC required documents:
    • Employer’s Request Letter to ARC (guidance available upon request).
    • J-1 Visa Liquidated Damages Clause. (Please note: clause is not submitted as a separate document, but must be incorporated in the executed employment agreement.)
    • J-1 Visa Waiver Affidavit and Agreement. (Please note: in addition to the submission of this document, all of its terms must be incorporated in the executed employment agreement.)
    • Additional documentation for special population HPSAs (guidance available upon request).
    • Supporting documentation demonstrating reasonable good faith effort to recruit U.S. physician for the position in the same salary range without success during the six months preceding the waiver application.
  • 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.  

Ohio Free Clinic Dentist Loan Repayment Program

Applications for the Ohio Free Clinic Dentist Loan Repayment Program are being accepted through July 23, 2021. Completed applications should be emailed to Star Sawicki at Star.Sawicki@odh.ohio.gov. Click the link to download the Ohio Free Clinic Dentist Loan Repayment Program Application.


Overview

The goal of the Ohio Free Clinic Dentist Loan Repayment Program is to increase access to dental care in Ohio’s Free Clinics by providing loan repayment assistance to dentists who volunteer or work part-time in an Ohio Free Clinic. Eligible dentists must volunteer or be employed by an Ohio Free Clinic, as defined in O.R.C. 3701.071. The rate of reimbursement will be calculated based on the dentist’s employment status with the Free Clinic, as volunteer or paid staff; and for volunteers, the amount of time volunteered over a 12-month period.

Eligible volunteer dentists must provide dental services in an Ohio Free Clinic without financial compensation. In order to be eligible for any funding amount under this program, volunteer dentists must provide direct patient care at least 40 hours over a 12-month period. Payment upon completion of service shall vary based on the number of volunteer clinical hours completed. Annual hourly requirements and funding amounts for volunteers are defined in the table below:

Hours Per 12-Month Period

Loan Repayment

40-79

Up to $2,500

80-119

Up to $5,000

120-159

Up to $7,500

160+

Up to $10,000

 

Eligible staff dentists must provide dental services in an Ohio Free Clinic as an employee or contractor (paid financial compensation) on a part-time basis. In order to be eligible for any funding amount under this program, staff dentists must provide direct patient care between 8 and 19 hours per week over a 12-month period.  Payment of up to $5,000 shall be provided upon completion of service. Staff dentists working 20 or more hours per week are not eligible for this program but may be eligible for other loan repayment programs coordinated by the Ohio Department of Health, Primary Care Office.

Funding awards must be applied to unpaid government or commercial loans for dental school tuition, reasonable education expenses and reasonable living expenses, segregated from all other debts. Original loan documents are required if loans were consolidated. 

Forms and Resources:

Ohio Oral Health Professions Promotion Program

Applications for the Oral Health Professions Promotion Program are being accepted through July 23, 2021. Completed applications should be emailed to Star Sawicki at Star.Sawicki@odh.ohio.gov. Click the link to download the Oral Health Professions Promotion Application.


Overview
The goal of the Ohio Oral Health Professions Promotion Program is to increase interest in oral health professions careers by students from underserved areas. Dental and dental hygiene school student groups are eligible to apply for funding to conduct outreach at school or community events to promote underserved areas’ elementary, middle, high school, and undergraduate students’ interest in oral health professions. Events may be held virtually. Student groups must be affiliated with a dental or dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Four student groups will be eligible for an award of up to $500.00 each. 

Ohio Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Dental Residents to Service Loan Repayment Program

The Ohio FQHC Dental Residents to Service Loan Repayment Program application cycle has been extended through June 18, 2022. Funds will be awarded through the extended application period and may be depleted before the application cycle’s deadline. The program web page will be updated when annual funding is exhausted. Completed applications should be emailed to Star Sawicki at Star.Sawicki@odh.ohio.gov. Click the link to download the program’s application.


Overview

The goal of the Ohio Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Residents to Service Loan Repayment Program is to increase the number of residency trained dentists in Ohio’s FQHCs by incentivizing dental students to pursue in-state residency training followed by practice in an Ohio FQHC. The program offers loan repayment to in-state AEGD, GPR, pediatric, and public health dental residents who completed a rotation at an Ohio FQHC through the Ohio Primary Care Workforce Initiative (OPCWI) while in dental school and commit to practice in an Ohio FQHC after completion of residency.

Selected applicants will receive loan repayment while enrolled in a dental residency program in exchange for a one or two-year post-residency service commitment in an Ohio FQHC. Service time is dependent on length of residency program. One-year residency programs require one year of post-residency service and two-year residency programs require two years of post-residency service. Selected applicants may receive up to $25,000 per year while in residency training.

Provider and Practice Site Eligibility

  • Pre-Residency Requirements
    • Applicants must have completed a rotation through OPCWI while in dental school.*
  • Residency Requirements
    • Dentists currently enrolled in or accepted into an Ohio AEGD, GPR, Pediatric, or Public Health dental residency program are eligible to apply.
  • Post-Residency Practice Site Requirements
    • Applicants must commit to practice at an Ohio FQHC after completion of residency.

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

*OPCWI began providing clinical rotations in certain FQHCs in 2015. To verify completion of an OPCWI rotation, please contact Star Sawicki at Star.Sawicki@odh.ohio.gov.

Forms and Resources