Loan repayment program seeks to retain Idaho’s rural nurses

DHW Communications

Fifty Idaho nurses have been selected for loan repayment assistance under a new state program designed to help rural communities attract and retain nurses.

The Idaho Legislature enacted the Rural Nursing Loan Repayment Program in 2023. It offers qualified nurses up to $25,000, not to exceed their nursing education debt, over three years.

Qualifying applicants must be registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) practicing patient care for a minimum of 32 hours per week in rural and underserved areas in Idaho. To be eligible for the program these rural and underserved areas must meet the following criteria:

  • A rural area designated by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services as a health professional shortage area

  • A county with a population center less than 20,000 people

  • Any critical access hospital

Applications were accepted from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, 2023. In its first year the program saw interest from nearly 150 nurses and received 76 complete applications. 

The program’s review board reviewed all eligible applications and met Jan. 11 to make award determinations. The Board awarded fifty nurses each $5,000 in nursing education debt loan repayment, for a total of $250,000 in grant awards.

“Nurses are a critical component of the healthcare workforce,” said Gina Pannell, bureau chief of the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care, which oversees the program. “This first-of-its kind nursing loan repayment program will benefit rural Idaho communities that rely on nurses as part of their healthcare team.”

More information about this year’s 50 recipients is available at the DHW website at:

More information about the Rural Nursing Repayment Program is available at:

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