December 22, 2023 | By Nobscot CorporationHawaii has created an unprecedented program to shore up its healthcare provider base, which has dwindled since the COVID-19 crisis. The program, called Hawaii Healthcare Education Loan Repayment Program (HELP), seeks to address the critical shortage in healthcare employees. In it's first year the HELP program will provide a total $10,000,000 to 500 medical professionals for student loan forgiveness.
“We want to be the first state that has no shortage whatsoever of access to health care," said Governor Josh Green, who is also a medical physician. “The program will help us retain and expand our healthcare team statewide by roughly 500 medical personnel.”
The HELP program was developed collaboratively by the University of Hawaii's Medical School, the Healtcare Association of Hawaii, and the state Department of Health. The state legislature has funded the program including doubling the amount of funding in the second year to $20,000,000. Applicants may include Doctors, Nurses, Medical Assistants, Pharmacists, Social Workers, and Psychologists and others committed to working in Hawaii's healthcare sector. The Governor hopes that it can be a model for other healthcare systems facing employee turnover issues across the country.
Applicants accepted for the program must agree to work for two years of full-time or part-time service in the state of Hawaii. Loan payment amounts range from $12,500 to $50,000 depending on the amount of debt they hold and their area and location of practice.
In a press conference held on December 22nd, 2023, Governor Green stated that healthcare is just one area and that his administration hopes to address each essential workforce one group at a time.