TYLER, Texas (KETK)- A new medical school loan repayment program in Deep East Texas will help recruit and keep much needed healthcare workers.
The agreement will cover four years of student loan repayments for each person, with a maximum award of $30,000 per year.
The program is only for physicians and dentists and is aimed at helping underserved communities.
“Our intention is to bring providers into non-profit practice, into the clinics that serve those who tend to be underserved in terms of medicine and dentists, dentistry,” said Wynn Rosser, President and CEO of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.
Healthcare workers are needed all across the country and Deep East Texas is no exception.
James Stockman is a certified registered nurse anesthetist in Nacogdoches who’s seen first hand the struggle in hospitals.
“Being in a little more of a rural area, it gets difficult sometimes to attract physicians or even nurses to this area,” he said. “Without those physicians coming in, it could have a detrimental effect on my business and our model and frankly a lot of CRNAs.”
Now, in hopes of drawing more physicians to rural areas in East Texas, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation is teaming up with the State Office of Rural Health to launch a program to help pay for medical school.
“One of the main quality of life issues that came to our attention is the shortage of primary care providers. We have some counties that have no primary care providers, no physicians, no nurse practitioners, no physician assistants,” said Rosser.
Loans can add up and Stockman feels this new program can help many doctors.
“I have many physician friends, and some of them have been in practice for 10 years now. They’re still paying off student loans from medical school, so some of these things I know can get up into the $250,000 range,” added Stockman.
More than $1 million of funding is included for the first group of eight participants. There will be an annual application process.
To get the money, the new doctor will have to serve for at least 12 consecutive months at an approved site to qualify.
“It’s possible that someone would drop out. They would move out of state, change where they practice, to a site that is no longer eligible and then that would open up one of the eight opportunities within that cohort,” said Rosser.
This is just the start of the program and the foundation is hoping that it’s successful.
“Incentivizing something like this across the board would be a good idea. I wish they would expand it to some of the specialties like nurse anesthesia,” added Stockman.
Applications for the program are due by 5 p.m. on Nov. 30. Click here to apply.