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TSET Helps Attract 42 Doctors to Rural/Underserved Communities Throughout Oklahoma

For the first time, TSET’s partnership with Oklahoma Physician Manpower Training Commission has filled all 42 slots in its Physician Loan Repayment Program.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 23, 2020) – The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the Oklahoma Physician Manpower Training Commission (PMTC) announced the successful placement of 42 doctors through the physician loan repayment program serving rural and underserved communities across the state.

Leveraging the investment of TSET’s public health endowment funds, PMTC worked with hospitals, clinics and other partners including tribal nations to form one of the most successful public/private partnerships in Oklahoma history.

“TSET’s board committed to funding this program with the goal of attracting and keeping physicians to help address Oklahoma's physician shortage and support increased access to primary care and preventive screenings,” said Julie Bisbee, executive director of TSET. “And it’s working. TSET’s mission-driven support of rural physician access is an investment in communities across the state and is vital to the long-term health of every Oklahoman.”

The program’s design strengthens local health care access by attracting physicians to rural areas through medical loan repayment of up to $200,000. Physicians commit to spending four years in communities, opening up access to quality health care around the state for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans and enabling doctors, patients and communities to grow together.

Of the physician loan repayment, TSET provides 40% of the total funding for each TSET sponsored physician, making it one of the largest contributors to this public/private collaborative partnership. TSET public funds are matched by both public and private entities to ensure that physicians are placed in communities with the most need. Public and private partners providing matching funds include hospitals, cities, insurance providers, medical associations, and banks.

“The successful utilization of all 42 current TSET funded positions speaks both to the critical healthcare needs of rural Oklahoma and the importance of the physician loan repayment program,” said Janie Thompson, executive director of PMTC. “While celebrating these 42 placements, the critical rural health need is still with us. Community requests for assistance in recruiting physicians to rural Oklahoma, through physician loan repayment, are ongoing. The continued funding for this program is vital to bridging the gap in access to healthcare in rural Oklahoma.”

Since July, the physician loan repayment program has added 19 new physicians in 16 separate communities. According to the American Medical Association, a physician in Oklahoma supports an average of 11.7 other jobs and generates $1.9 million in annual economic activity in his or her community.

“Oklahoma faces serious public health challenges,” said Bisbee. “TSET’s mission is to address the most critical of those challenges head-on. Tobacco use and obesity present obstacles to our long-term health, but so does the shortage of physicians across our state. Fortunately, TSET’s investments enable us to help address all of those issues and other pressing public health matters – as Oklahomans intended when they created the endowment almost 20 years ago.”

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working toward shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. Investing $45 million in prevention and research in Oklahoma each year, TSET has been a driving force in the decade-long decline in tobacco use in the state. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across Oklahoma, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public's health. To learn more, visit