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The Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program
Placing Doctors in Rural & Underserved Communities
TSET’s investment in the Physician Manpower Training Commission (PMTC) combats Oklahoma’s physician shortage in medically underserved parts of the state.
TSET is committed to improving the health of all Oklahomans, and we recognize the critical need of placing physicians in rural and medically underserved communities. To achieve this objective, TSET offers the Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program. The program pays off student loans for primary care physicians who establish practices in medically underserved areas.
Through the Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment program, 29 physicians are practicing in Oklahoma’s rural and underserved areas. To date, 18 physicians have completed the program, and 81% have chosen to continue practicing medicine where they were placed as part of the program.
“The Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment program brings public and private entities together to support rural and medically underserved parts of our state. The program adds to the state’s rural health infrastructure and supports Oklahomans in making healthier choices and managing their health.” - Julie Bisbee, TSET Executive Director
Since the start of the program in 2013, doctors have conducted more than 324,600 patient visits. In addition, doctors participating in the program see patients enrolled in SoonerCare.
To date, physicians participating in the loan repayment program have conducted more than 95,700 SoonerCare patient visits. During that time, physicians in the program have referred nearly 11,000 patients to free cessation coaching and services through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, a program also funded by TSET.
In May 2019, the TSET Board of Directors voted to extend the contract for another 5 years with the Physician Manpower Training Commission to recruit and retain physicians in rural Oklahoma. This will allow an additional 42 physicians to be placed in rural and medically underserved areas in Oklahoma.
According to the American Medical Association, a physician in Oklahoma supports 11.7 jobs on average and $1.9 million in annual economic activity in his or her community.
TSET funds are matched by hospitals, cities, insurance providers and banks to ensure that physicians are placed in communities that have difficulty recruiting physicians. Public and private partners providing match include hospitals, cities, insurance providers, and banks. Additional partners continue to be recruited.
“This partnership has continued to grow and embrace the continued challenges Oklahoma faces recruiting physicians to the rural areas of Oklahoma. This program has only begun to make an impact in rural Oklahoma. With partners like Oklahoma State Medical Association coming along side TSET and PMTC, to invest in physician loan repayment, rural Oklahoma will be placed in a better position to meet the demands of the changing market for physicians." - Janie Thompson, PMTC Interim Executive Director
UNDERSTANDING THE NEED
On average, physicians graduating from medical school have an average of $190,000 in debt according to a 2016 study. PMTC loan repayment participants most often present loan amounts in the $300,000 range. The burden of medical school debt can sometimes prevent physicians from practicing general medicine or working in rural or underserved areas.
Participants must accept Medicare billing and agree to establish a practice in a medically underserved area of the state for up to four years. Participants must be a primary care physician, which includes:
- Family Medicine
- General Internal Medicine
- General Pediatrics
- Emergency Medicine