At the request of the Ohio Primary Care Office at the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Ohio Academy of Family Physicians President Don Mack, MD, wrote a letter of support for continued funding of the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This vital program currently funds 29 physicians, 3 dentists, and 2 dental hygienists who practice at safety net sites in Ohio’s Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
In the letter of support Dr. Mack states, “The OAFP works closely with the Ohio Primary Care Office within the ODH to promote the availability of this program to family physicians who are interested in caring for underserved populations. Ohio has approximately 3.3 million citizens residing in HPSAs in urban and rural communities. The majority of the identified underserved populations reside in the state’s seven largest cities, while most of Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties are also designated as HPSAs.”
Physicians selected for participation sign initial two-year contracts for up to $50,000 in outstanding health professions educational debt. With many family physicians leaving medical school with debt in excess of $170,000, this program’s assistance with medical debt encourages physicians to practice in areas where it would be unaffordable for them to practice otherwise.
Dr. Mack’s letter concludes, “This program has an impressive track record in helping to place primary care physicians in areas of great need. We continue to support this program as a means to provide primary care to low-income residents of underserved communities in predominately poor inner-city and rural areas and those in geographically remote rural areas.”