Slashing Loan Debt May Attract Primary Care Workers
Legislation aiming to restore "decimated" student loan funding could help incentivize nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in rural and underserved areas of Washington State.
APRNs and other highly trained nurses are among the health providers that Washington State is trying to recruit with loan-quashing legislation introduced in December.
Molly Belozer Firth
The bill, SB 5010 introduced by Senator David Frockt (D), aims to alleviate the state's primary care shortage by helping to ease the financial burden of massive student loan debt that healthcare providers are saddled with when they leave college.
Such debt leads to a vicious cycle that affects everyone from the providers themselves to the patients that get left behind. When faced with massive debt, new grads have no choice but to work in settings that can pay them higher salaries, leaving community health settings and underserved areas such as rural Washington State unable to recruit desperately needed providers.
"If they add on all this debt, they need to know they're going to have a way to pay [it down]," says Molly Belozer Firth, director of public policy for the Community Health Network of Washington, one of the organizations working in coalition to support the legislation. Also supporting it are the Washington State Nurses Association, Washington State Hospital Association, Washington State Medical Association, Washington State Dental Association, and Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers.