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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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Alaska's SHARP Program


What is the SHARP Program?

Alaska's SHARP Program is our statewide support-for-service effort that provides partial financial support to healthcare practitioners in medical, dental, and behavioral health disciplines. It is a public-private partnership working to improve the recruitment, retention, and distribution of health professionals for Alaska. SHARP offers two types of support-for-service benefit, either (a) education loan repayment, or (b) direct incentive, to practitioners in support of their work, and particular with Alaska's priority populations.

SHARP-1

SHARP-1 was and remains Alaska's fundamental state-operated support-for-service program effort. It is based on the state's receipt of competitive Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) partnership grants from the federal State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP). Alaska has now received four such grants from HRSA. All SHARP-1 contracts are partially HRSA-funded, with remainder derived from assorted non-federal sources, including employers. SHARP-1 contracts provide education loan repayment only, and, are based on licensed generalist practitioners providing service in federally designated Health Professionals Shortage Areas (HPSA) locations, mostly in outpatient primary care clinics. 

SHARP-1 Application Cycle: Closed until later-spring 2021


SHARP-3: New Health Care Professionals Workforce Enhancement Program

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announces the opening of SHARP-3, our newest support-for-service opportunity for healthcare practitioners. SHARP-3, the Alaska State Legislature has established the Health Care Professionals Workforce Enhancement Program (Ch. 115 SLA 19) (AS 18.29). The SHARP-3 regulations are done, and thus SHARP-3 opens January 4, 2021. This public notice constitutes SHARP's solicitation of upcoming applicants.

What is SHARP-3?

SHARP-3 was established in May 2019 by the Alaska Legislature (AS 18.29) as the "Health Care Professionals Workforce Enhancement Program." The intent of the SHARP-3 is to increase the availability of health care services throughout the state, and especially to individuals who are underserved, or in health care professional shortage areas or in rural locales. SHARP-3 is expected to help expand the number and distribution of practitioners. Important differences between out traditional (and ongoing) SHARP-1 component and the new SHARP-3 is that SHARP-1 only provides education loan repayment and only for licensed primary care clinicians (largely) working as outpatient generalists, and only for those located in federal Health Professionals Shortage Areas (HPSAs). However, SHARP-3 allows for a much broader range of practitioner occupations, practice settings and locales.

SHARP-3 is the third state-operated support-for-service program effort, and was created by unanimous legislative passage of SB-93 in May 2019, which became law (AS 18.29) on August 1, 2019. The regulations were signed by the Lt. Governor on 11/24/20 and became effective 12/25/20. In particular, SHARP-3 features (a) advance blended funding; (b) reference to federal law (PL 111-148, Sec 10908) that discusses tax exemption for education loan repayment; (c) pre-authorization of registered employers; and (d) an expanded range of possible financial contributors.
SHARP-3 Program Manual
Please review SHARP's detailed Program Manual to answer any technical questions you may have. 
Access SHARP-3's Program Manual by asking for a copy through SHARP's Inquiry Submission form.
Please access the SHARP Inquiry Submission Form here.


Application

Register with SHARP

All practitioners and all employers interested in participating in SHARP are urged to register with the program.
Please access the SHARP Inquiry Submission Form here to register.


Application Availability

Pubic Notice is served that DHSS is now soliciting for both employer and practitioner applicants to Alaska's SHARP Program. 
See copy of DHSS Public Notice by asking for a copy through SHARP's Inquiry Submission form.
Please access the SHARP Inquiry Submission Form here.


Application Date

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 recommendation of applicants.


Practitioner Application

The Practitioner Application has two parts: (1) the Practitioner Application per se; and (b) the Loan & Lender form (if practitioner is seeking education loan repayment benefit).  Practitioners interested in SHARP-3 participation must apply regardless of whether such persons have applied for other SHARP opportunities in the past. 

Employer Application 

The Employer Application has two parts: (1) the Organization Application form; and (b) the Position Application form. Know that only one Organization form is needed per employer, however, a different Position form is required for each occupation (e.g. licensure) type request. An employer that seeks to participate in SHARP-3 must apply regardless of whether the employer has applied for other SHARP opportunities in the past. 

Practitioners and Employers Applying Separately

Parties that want to participate but who have not yet found a "match-up" may still apply. Indeed, this may help employers and practitioners to find a match. However, the eventual actual participation in SHARP requires a signed three-way service contract, the parties of which being the State, the employer, and the practitioner. SHARP urges interested clinicians to begin dialogue with their current or prospective employers at their earliest opportunity. SHARP may be able to help practitioner and employer applicants find partner "matches."

Applications are No-Cost

SHARP does not charge either the practitioner nor the employer for applying. No other cost(s) are anticipated to result from this application process. Further, under no circumstance will SHARP pay for any cost of application submission.

Selection Process

The SHARP program will determine basic eligibilities and will then forward eligible applicant data to Alaska's SHARP Council monthly. The council's admissions committee reviews selected data regarding all eligible application, and may thus issue recommendation(s), which are related to eventual practitioner admittance(s). The committee will convene monthly in publicly noticed meetings to review and issue recommendations regarding each constituted monthly pool of eligible applicants. The process is done via blind case-code, such that no individual names nor demographic aspects are discussed. When funding is limited, SHARP reviews all participants through the standard competitive process. Council's recommendations are forward via public resolution(s) to the program for determination and ensuing contract offer(s), if any.

More Information 

Submitting Inquires

Please pose all inquires about this opportunity via our web-portal. Doing so has the added advantage of registering your interest in SHARP-3 program. This allows us to be able to send you updates. Please access the SHARP Inquiry Submission Form here.

Technical Assistance and Q&A sessions

Statewide Zoom videoconferences are scheduled for all interested parties to learn about this SHARP-3 opportunity. All interested parties are asked to use these weekly (optional) Zoom videoconferences to pose their questions. In general, content repeats (but also with question-&-answer) on each Friday from 11:00am-12:00pm (AK), January 8 - March 26, 2021. 

Click here to join ANY of these Zoom meetings.

Meeting ID: 960 1503 1197  

DHSS Public Notices 
Principal program updates will also be posted to the Alaska DHSS Public Notices website.

Disability Accommodation
If you are a person with a disability that requires special accommodation in order to apply, please contact Robert Sewell, SHARP Director, at robert.sewell@alaska.gov or 907-465-4065. Please do so no later than five days before the accommodation is required to ensure that the needed accommodation(s) can be provided.

SHARP-1: Alaska's State Loan Repayment Program

    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 an 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​


    Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) Designation

    You can determine the HPSA scores for regions, facilities, and tribal health organizations throughout Alaska by using the Health Resources and Services Administration's HPSA Find website.
    Go to data.HRSA.gov and click on Find Shortage Areas. Once on this page select Search HPSAs by State/County.


    SHARP-1: Recruitment and Retention

    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:

    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 is moving to a new, and improved Quarterly Work Report format


Use of new “Jot Form” format begins for THIS quarter (CY’20-Q1), with “Report Month” in April.
 
Your agency’s SHARP Site Rep. is the person who submits your Quarterly Report.
•    Clinicians can certainly assist your Site Rep in preparation.
•    SHARP will no longer accept the old PDF form.
•    As well, SHARP will only accept the QWR, via the Jot Form, from the Site Rep.
 
All of the questions (fields) are the same as on the old PDF form.
•    Also, the quarterly submission time remains the same.
 
As to work-flow, the Site Rep completes the QWR Jot Form.
•    Then, the form-with-date is automatically sent to the clinician for inspection.
 
Web-link to SHARP Quarterly Work Report Jot 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)
    • Psychologist (Clinical or Counseling)
    • Nurse Practitioner with Doctorate
    Tier-2: Award Amount $20,000; Very Hard-to-Fill $27,000 per year.
    • Nurse Practitioner
    • Physician Assistant
    • Registered Nurse
    • Certified Nurse Midwife
    • Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
    • Psychiatric Nurse Specialist (PNS)
    • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
    • Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)
    • Registered Clinical Dental Hygienist

Technical Assistance for Those Applying for SHARP-1:

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.

 

    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.


    Employer Agencies in Alaska that have Used the SHARP Program


    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.

    Questions? 

    Please submit ANY questions by clicking this link: SHARP Inquiry Submission Form

        

  • Robert Sewell, Ph.D., Program Director
    Alaska's SHARP Program
    Section of Rural and Community Health Systems
    P.O. Box 110610
    Juneau, AK 99811-0610
    Email: robert.sewell@alaska.gov
    Phone: (907) 465-4065  
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