JUNEAU - Alaska awarded its first grants through its student loan repayment program, SHARP (Supporting Health care Access through loan Re-Payment).
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services program helps recruit and retain health care providers in areas of Alaska that have a provider shortage.
The 14 awards, totaling $731,771, were awarded as follows: $230,000 to five behavioral health providers; $140,000 to two dental care providers; and $361,771 to seven medical providers. The providers are based in Anchorage, Bethel, Dillingham, Kenai, Homer, Petersburg, Talkeetna, Tok and Wrangell.
"The overall number of care providers in Alaska is slowly growing, but many Alaskans are still not getting the care they need," Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan said. "By joining other states that offer providers this effective incentive, we are helping Alaskans who face financial, cultural or geographic barriers to care."
Alaska has 2.06 physicians per 1,000 residents, well below the national average of 2.38 per 1,000.