If you live in or have visited the rural towns and cities in Arizona, it’s not a surprise that many of these rural locations don’t have enough healthcare providers. Based on current provider shortage data from the federal HRSA, we need an additional 170 primary care providers and 54 mental health providers to adequately care for its underserved populations. 

April is Minority Health Month and a great time to highlight one of our programs that addresses provider shortages and improves health equity in rural and underserved areas. The First Things First Early Childhood Therapist Incentives Program provides stipends and loan repayment to Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Child Psychologists, and Mental Health Specialists who provide early childhood development services in rural and underserved areas.  

The program currently has 30 providers participating and will be accepting applications until June 15 for providers in 9 rural counties.  Visit the First Things First Early Childhood Therapist Incentives Program for eligibility and application details.  This program is one of several incentives that can help bring more providers to undeserved areas of the state. Visit the workforce programs web site for information on other programs.