Many Idaho communities experience healthcare workforce shortages, particularly in rural areas. Rural healthcare workforce shortages not only reduce healthcare access and increase stress on existing providers but also contribute to overall higher costs. The Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care works to strengthen workforce recruitment and retention efforts; provide educational workshops; and identify healthcare workforce shortage areas.
The Idaho Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program allows medically underserved communities to recruit and hire a foreign-trained primary care physician or psychiatrist as an option of last resort. The applicant employer and the J-1 physician must agree and adhere to the terms and conditions set forth by state and federal requirements. Applications must be submitted to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare through the Primary Care Office with a $1,000 processing fee. Up to five applications may be submitted per healthcare organization within the program year (October – September).
The 2017 Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 81 that expanded the Idaho Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program to allow specialist physicians and limited non-shortage area flex waiver applications to be considered. The 2023 Idaho Legislature approved the following changes; narrative description of health care facility trying for at least three months to fill the position with a U.S. citizen physician, removal of sliding fee scale, removal of residency program recommendation letter, and no specific cap on flex waivers or specialist positions starting April each year. Interested applicants are encouraged to review Idaho Statute Title 39, Chapter 61 in its entirety.
The application packet and instructions are available by contacting the Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care.
The National Interest Waiver Program provides a mechanism for a foreign physician pursuing a change in immigration status to stay in the United States in exchange for a commitment to practice medicine to an underserved population for a three- to five-year period. It waives the requirement for the employer to go through the labor certification process. Idaho communities may apply for the placement of a foreign physician after demonstrating their inability to recruit an American physician, and all other recruitment/placement possibilities have proven to be unsuccessful. Applications must be submitted to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare through the Primary Care Office with a $350 processing fee. Interested applicants are encouraged to review Idaho Statute Title 39, Chapter 61 in its entirety.
The application materials are available by contacting the Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care.
Idaho health organizations can post their vacancies at no charge to recruit potential candidates nationwide. Find information about how to post your organization’s vacancies.
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a federal program under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which strives to ensure healthcare access for all individuals, prevent disease and illness, as well as care for at-risk and underserved populations. To reward individuals and sites who join the program in improving access to primary care in rural and underserved areas of the country, the NHSC offers loan repayment and scholarship incentives, assistance in site recruitment and retention, as well as education, training, and networking opportunities.
The Primary Care Office (PCO) in the Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care offers technical assistance to sites applying to become or to continue being a NHSC site in Idaho.
Please contact the Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care if you would like more information.