IDPH’s Center for Rural Health to launch UPW program, loan repayment grant opportunity

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Rural Health will soon be launching the Underserved Physician Workforce Program (UPW) which will award eligible physicians up to $50,000 in educational loan repayment for two years of fulltime service to a non-profit site to assist with the recruitment and retention of physicians in underserved area in Illinois.

The UPW Program’s goal is to assist communities in recruiting physicians willing to practice full or half-time in federal Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Program funds are used to repay up to $50,000 of the education loans of eligible physicians who agree to serve full or half-time in a federally designated HPSA in Illinois, without regard for the patient’s ability to pay.

“Physicians may work less than full-time, but a minimum half-time, if they agree to double their obligation period,” said Casper. “The minimum grant for a full-time physician is two years. Half-time physicians will work a minimum obligation of four years in a HPSA.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Rural Health is creating a UPW website, which is expected to go live in April through which physicians and sites will submit applications to participate in the program. The UPW database will mimic the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) database that many CAHs currently work with for educational loan repayment with IDPH. Within this website, eligible providers engaged in family practice, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, or general surgery will be eligible to apply for this loan repayment workforce program.

Applications are limited to one per hospital per funding cycle. An additional appropriation for FY 2022 that begins July 1 is also expected. For more information about the UPW program, you may direct your questions to or call the Center for Rural Health at 217.782.1624.

Application requirements include:

  • Licensure in Illinois as a physician (residency trained or board eligible osteopathic or allopathic physicians trained in the aforementioned areas, or expect to be licensed in Illinois and who is willing to practice at public or nonprofit entities providing healthcare services in a federally designated HPSA in Illinois
  • Sign a contract with the Illinois Department of Public Health guaranteeing their minimum commitment of two years of service in a HPSA
  • Be indebted to a governmental or commercial lending institution for educational expenses incurred in pursuit of the applicant’s degrees or diploma
  • Be a U.S. citizen

The link to the UPW page on the IDPH website: