Rural healthcare grants awarded to 16 seek to attract and retain providers

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 20:25:34-04

BOISE, Idaho — Rural Idaho needs more doctors and officials hope to incentivize them by offering to pay their student loans. 

All recipients of the new State Loan Repayment Program get paid up to $50,000 dollars a year to serve rural communities. One of the 16 awarded is Kelly Krause, a Physician Assistant with Full Circle Health. It's both her job and her passion to help patients in Idaho.

"It's really great when you get to help patients that you know might not have otherwise been able to get the care," said Krause.

With healthcare in high demand right now, according to Idaho's Office of Performance Evaluations, the state would need to fill 3,000 more direct care jobs to be comparable to national staffing levels.

"Right now, our entire state is a 98% primary care shortage area," said  Gina Pannell, the Bureau Chief for the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.

Due to the lack of providers in the area, Krause has to travel to nine clinics throughout the Treasure Valley daily.

One of the grant's requirements is for those awarded to stay in rural and underserved communities for at least two years.

DHWtells us since the start of the program in 2015 about 95% of recipients stayed for at least an additional year after completing the program.

"Once providers start practicing in their rural communities, they root there and recognize the value of being there,” said Pannell.

Kelly Krause plans to stay after her two years, meaning the program is achieving its goal of rooting healthcare professionals in Idaho communities. She will be one of many responding to the needs of rural Idaho communities.