July 22, 2024

Hawaii announces first recipients of student loan payment program for health care workers

The state has announced the first recipients of a program aimed at helping medical professionals pay off student loans in exchange for a two-year commitment to provide care in Hawaii

Green, who is also a doctor, plans to solicit similar contributions from potential benefactors to help pay off more student loans. He wants the Hawaii Healthcare Education Loan Repayment Program to become a national model. The state said each of 492 health care workers will have up to $100,000 in loans paid as part of the first round of the program. Health care workers who get their loans paid off also must agree to treat 30% of patients who receive Medicaid or Medicare.

The next period of applications is scheduled to open next summer.

The first group represented Hawaii-based health care workers with outstanding student debt of more than $100,000 and as much as $500,000.

During the pandemic, Hawaii spent $150 million to bring in traveling nurses, doctors and other health care professionals. It also reinforced the need to have more health care workers in Hawaii who understand the community, Green said.

Dr. John Misailidis, who is double board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics, arrived in Hawaii in 2011 for his residency through the University of Hawaii medical school under the weight of $250,000 in student loan debt.

He said he is “extremely grateful” after learning that Hawaii will pay off $100,000 of his debt.

“I really fell in love with the people here,” he said. “I love the local culture … and I’m really grateful to be able to stay.”

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