Sunday, January 21, 2024

Ky. health-care workers can apply for loan relief until Jan. 31

The UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health has the Health Care Worker Loan Relief Program, run by Rural Project Manager Sierra Williams (left) and Center Director Fran Feltner. (Photo by Beth Bowling)
By Beth Bowling
University of Kentucky

In just over a year, the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health has helped provide more than $1.3 million in loan relief for health-care workers.

The center is accepting the next round of applications for the Healthcare Worker Loan Relief Program of the Commonwealth through the end of January.

The legislature established the program in 2022 to increase the recruitment and retention of health-care professionals to practice in underserved areas of Kentucky.

“We are grateful for this much-needed funding and it is already making a positive impact in underserved communities across the state,” Center Director Fran Feltner said. “In just a little more than one year, we have been able to award more than $1 million in loan relief to more than 20 health professionals across 13 communities in Kentucky."

The program was designed to complement the state's federally funded loan-repayment program by filling in gaps and expanding eligibility to additional medical specialists including ophthalmologists, optometrists and audiologists. It is geared toward professionals who provide direct patient care in these disciplines and specialties: physicians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, audiologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, registered nurses, dentists, registered dental hygienists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional clinical counselors, health service psychologists, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurse specialists, alcohol and substance use disorder counselors and pharmacists. Additional specialties will be considered.

Applicants selected to participate could be awarded up to $100,000 depending upon provider type, level of loan indebtedness and sponsor commitment. Awardees are required to work 24 to 40 hours a week, up to 4,160 hours over a two- to three-year period. Participants receive tax-free student loan repayment in exchange for their service commitment.

Additional requirements include serving in an officially designated health-professions shortage area and working at an eligible clinical site that serves as a sponsor. Examples of eligible sites include federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, community mental health agencies, health department clinics, prisons, private practices and critical access hospitals.

The deadline to apply is 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 31. Apply or learn more about applicant eligibility, clinical site eligibility and program guidelines here, or contact Sierra Williams at or 606-439-3557.

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