Idaho Tackles its Low Practicing-Physicians-to-Population Ratio

From 1997 to 2007, the Idaho Area Health Education Center served as the lead agency in a project to establish a community-development approach to the recruitment and retention of health care providers in its rural areas.

The project used a program-related investment (PRI) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to leverage a $3.5 million bank loan fund for improving health practices and facilities in underserved areas.

The Idaho Area Health Education Center, formerly known as the Idaho Rural Health Education Center, is an affiliated program of the nonprofit health and human services organization Mountain States Group, this project's the official grantee.

The project was part of the RWJF Practice Sights: State Primary Care Development Strategies national program.

Key Results

  • A state loan-repayment program and project-recruitment efforts placed 73 providers into rural communities, most in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
  • Provider vacancies declined from 73 to 15 in four years.
  • The state developed four new primary care clinics in underserved areas.
  • Fourteen communities received assistance in rural health clinic development, community assessments, and strategic planning and implementation.