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SHARP Loan Repayment for Primary Health-care Practitioners

Proper health care solutions are crucial to the future of our state and the overall vitality of our people. Alaska’s current health care system is in need of changes that empower patients and health care providers, increase the number of providers throughout the state, and decrease costs for both the state and individuals.

-DHSS biannual external newsletter, “Winter Update:  2014-2015”

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SHARP Support-for-Service​​

PUBLIC NOTICE – UPDATE
SHARP-1:  Practitioner Loan Repayment for SFY 2019 Application Window Closes June 21st, 2019

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announces the conclusion of its SHARP-1 healthcare practitioner loan repayment application period for State Fiscal Year 2019.  This 2019 application opportunity closes on June 21st, 2019, 5:00 pm (AK).

For further detail, see the Public Notice
An off-cycle application opportunity is currently available.
For more information on the off-cycle opportunity see the link below, Contract-3: Off Cycle Contracts.

    Clinician Application


    To receive a copy of SHARP’s standard clinician application form, please email us at: sharp.applications@alaska.gov


    •    Once you have completed your clinician application form, please submit this to SHARP via emailed attachment to this same address.
    •    You must return the form in its original “live” format (aka “clickable” or “fillable” form); i.e. do not “print-off” and “scan” a hardcopy.


    All interested clinicians must apply anew, regardless of whether they have applied previously.


    •    The date of submission (within the eligible range) is not relevant in the prioritization process.
    •    SHARP does not use a “first come, first served” approach for either the review and/or selection of applicants.
    •    The program does not charge a cost for practitioners to submit a clinician application.
    •    All eligible SHARP-1 practitioners will be generalist outpatient clinicians.  The eligible occupations are grouped into two tiers:

    o    Tier 1 includes Doctor of Allopathic Medicine   (M.D.); Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.); Dentist (D.D.S. or D.M.D); and Pharmacist.
    o    Tier 2 includes: Clinical or Counseling Psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.); Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC); Marriage and Family Therapist; Nurse Midwife; Nurse Practitioner; Physician Assistant; Registered Clinical Dental Hygienist; and Registered Nurse (R.N.).


    Employer Application


    To receive a copy of SHARP’s standard employer application form, please email us at: sharp.applications@alaska.gov
    •    Once you have completed your clinician application form, please submit this to SHARP via emailed attachment to this same address.
    •    You must return the form in its original “live” format (aka “clickable” or “fillable” form); i.e. do not “print-off” and “scan” a hardcopy.
    If an agency has already successfully applied to SHARP (any time after 1/1/18) then the agency need not submit another employer application form.   However, agencies are free to update their employer applications (e.g. requesting more or different occupations).
    •    The date of submission (within the eligible range) is not relevant in the prioritization process.
    •    All employer applicants must sign and endorse the provided attestation page, which will also be on the SHARP website.
    •    SHARP does not charge a cost for employers to submit an application for this solicitation.
    We expect that many healthcare agencies will identified as eligible, including both private non-profit and public (government) healthcare sites. 
    •    Examples include (but are not limited to) community health centers, critical access hospitals, community mental health (behavioral health) clinics, tribal health organizations, drug treatment facilities, long-term care facilities and others.
    •    For a site to be eligible-to-apply, the site must at least be either designated as, or be within, a federal Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSA). 
    •    If you require more information about federal HPSA designations, please see: Find Shortage Areas.


    Decisions Timeline

    Alaska’s SHARP Council will periodically meet in publicly noticed meetings to review and select from the pool of eligible applications.  These business meetings will occur at least once per quarter, and the schedule of these meetings will be publicly notice.

    Service Contract Benefit

    Education loan-debt repayment support is paid in an amount of up to the maximum annual benefit for the practitioner.

    • Those maximum amounts are: Tier-1: $35,000 - $47,000, and Tier-2: $20,000 - $27,000, with the maximum amounts (within each Tier) dependent upon whether the position is categorized as “regular fill” vs. “very hard-to-fill.”
    • All SHARP education loan repayments are exempt from federal personal income tax according to federal regulation. 
    • SHARP’s support-for-service awards are strictly in addition to (and are not a supplanting of) the clinician’s regular employer-provided wage and benefit. 
    • Once a practitioner has received and completed an initial two-year contract award, and remains in good standing, he/she is welcome to apply again.  However, all applications occur through the SHARP program’s standard competitive process. 
    • Receiving an initial contract does not automatically ensure receipt of a second contract.

    SHARP-1 – Checklist for Eligibility to Apply
    Basic Required Elements

    Alaska’s SHARP-1 program option is based on our now-traditional HRSA partnership grant. Thus, know that HRSA has several stipulations as to basic eligibility requirements. The list of those basic requirements (at least) includes the following items.

    Clinicians must:

    • Be in an eligible medical, dental or behavioral health occupation
    • Provide direct patient care (at least some)
    • Provide primary care (outpatient, ambulatory clinic); generalist
    • Have eligible education loan debt only (in your name only; & not co-mingled)
    • Plan on participating in either full-time or half-time capacity
    • Be finished with licensure-relevant school/training
    • Hold a relevant occupational license
    • Be able to start contract soon (e.g. between Oct & Dec)
    • Be a U.S. citizen (or naturalized)

    Employers must:

    • Be a non-profit or government entities (and not for-profit)
    • Have or be located within a federal HPSA designation
    • Provide outpatient, clinic based care (in most all instances) (if inpatient services, then only at CAHs in HPSAs, or tribal hospitals)
    • Be Prepared to pay required employer match

    Important:

    The interested party CAN submit and application, even though any of these are items are NOT YET true. However, in order for the SHARP contract to actually begin (i.e. service credit begins to accrue), then all of these elements must be true.

    If you still need clarification as to meaning on any of these items, please send an email request to sharp.inquiry@alaska.gov​


    SHARP-I

    The purpose of the SHARP-I program option is to recruit and retain selected primary health care professionals to serve in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) in exchange for the repayment of qualifying educational loans, pursuant to a signed SHARP MOA with the State of Alaska. 

    Service Contract

    Interested parties can view an inspection copy of the current SHARP-I Memorandum of Agreement:

    What is the best way to ask about SHARP?

    The best way to ask about the SHARP Program is by email. If you send an email we will have your email address and will be able to alert you to opportunities in the SHARP Program. Please send your email to: sharp.inquiry@alaska.gov.

    Or fill out the SHARP Inquiry Form

    BASICS OF SHARP-I

    Eligible Occupations

    Tier-1: Award Amount $35,000 per year; Very Hard-to-Fill $47,000 per year.
    • Primary Care Physician (MD or DO), includes Psychiatrists
    • Pharmacist
    • Dentist (DDS or DMD)
    Tier-2: Award Amount $20,000; Very Hard-to-Fill $27,000 per year.
    • Nurse Practitioner
    • Physician Assistant
    • Registered Nurse
    • Certified Nurse Midwife
    • Psychologist (Ph.D. or PsyD)
    • Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
    • Psychiatric Nurse Specialist (PNS)
    • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
    • Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)
    • Registered Clinical Dental Hygienist

    SHARP: Providing Support-for-Service to Health Care Practitioners

    Overview

    The purpose of SHARP is to address the worsening shortage of certain health professionals in the state by increasing the number and improving the distribution of healthcare professionals who provide direct patient care. SHARP particularly focuses on increasing the access to healthcare for higher-needs populations by working to increase the recruitment and retention of selected health care practitioners. SHARP provides support-for-service to practitioners in the form of either repayment of qualifying education loans and/or payment of direct incentive, pursuant to a signed SHARP contract with the State of Alaska.

    SHARP featured in the Alaska Legislative Digest March 18, 2018
    Read about Alaska's SHARP Program in the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
    NPR Series "Our Land" Features SHARP Program Physician Working in Klukwan.
    Check out the article on the SHARP Program in Northwest Pulse, the e-newsletter of the Northwest Regional Primary Care Association.

    Funding

    SHARP is operated by the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, and is jointly supported by funds from several sources including the State of Alaska’s General Fund, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, and the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and required partial employer match.

    What People are Saying About SHARP

    SHARP is working and we're making progress!

    Employer Agencies in Alaska that have Used the SHARP Program

    Important Notice about Concurrent Service Obligations

    Concurrent service obligations are not allowed in the SHARP Program. SHARP participants can only receive one support-for-service award. In some cases an employer will offer the clinician a signing bonus and/or moving expenses as a service obligation. Clinicians who receive these benefits can participate in the SHARP Program as long as the employer stipulates that these benefits don’t constitute a service obligation.

    Looking for a health care job in Alaska?

    Frequently we are asked by clinicians interested in working in Alaska about the best way to find a job, or if we can help them find a job. We emphasize that we are not a job referral agency. In general we do not know which health care agencies are recruiting for which positions. We do, however, want clinicians and employers to get acquainted with the goal of providing health care in under-served areas of the state.

    We have reached out to Alaska health care facilities and asked them to provide contact information to enabled candidates to inquire about health care opportunities. Many facilities have responded generously with the names and email addresses of staff to contact about employment. The websites of these facilities are also provided. Job searchers should go to the websites to see specifically which jobs are available.

    It continues to be our mission to build the Alaska health care workforce. As employers continue to send their contact information to us we will update this list of recruiting agencies. This list is not all inclusive and only contains the information that health care facilities have sent us. You should use this list as a way to develop a network of contacts and to become better acquainted with the health care system in Alaska.

    As part of your search for health care opportunities in Alaska you should also register with 3RNet, the Rural Recruitment and Retention Network for employers and candidates.

  • Robert Sewell, Ph.D., Program Director
    Alaska Division of Public Health
    Section of Health Planning & Systems Development 
    P.O. Box 110610
    Juneau, AK 99811-0610
    Phone: (907) 465-4065  
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