3RNet Blog

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Our members know their states! Learn more about Idaho, a "gem" of a state, from our member, Alex.

Name: Alex Prado

City, State: Boise, Idaho

Organization: Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care

How long have you lived in Idaho? Why do you choose to live there? I have lived in Idaho for seven years, specifically Boise. I realized quickly that Idaho was a hidden gem where growth was inevitable. Many people come from surrounding states and we are one of the fastest growing states for many reasons. There are so many opportunities, activities, and places to explore. Within an hour or less from the capitol building in the heart of the city, you can travel to the protected wilderness, local ski resort, desert, lake, river, and foothills. Idaho truly is majestic and has so much to offer. 

How is 3RNet impacting Idaho? There are many rural areas throughout the state. 3RNet allows job seekers to gain access to these pockets for rural healthcare employment opportunities. 

What are the best cultural events that happen in Idaho? While Idaho’s cultural communities are growing rapidly, there are two events that have a long history. Every September, Julia Davis Park in Boise hosts Art in the Park. It is one of the premiere 3-day events in the Northwest, showcasing handmade artwork and crafts created by vendors throughout the nation. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is a regional repertory theatre located in Boise. The Festival provides quality educational theater for the state and its neighboring regions. Each year the Festival performs five plays, which consist of a combination of plays by William Shakespeare as well as a selection of others, both contemporary and classical. The Festival also brings theater-arts programming to schools in 39 of Idaho’s 44 counties. 

Why should a health professional choose Idaho over surrounding states? A lot of people that come to the state enjoy the slower pace of life, free from the big-city rush. Boise, Idaho’s Capital and largest city, embodies a small-town feel with a blend of diverse cultures. The state has vast open spaces, beautiful landscapes, and peaceful surroundings during all times of the year. With the rapid population growth within the last decade, Idaho has become the land of opportunity and growth. 

What loan repayment programs does Idaho have? Anything that makes those programs unique?

There are three loan payment program opportunities in Idaho; the Rural Health Care Access Program, the Rural Provider Incentive Program and the State Loan Repayment Program: 

1. The Rural Health Care Access Program (RHCAP) 
RHCAP exists to assist rural and underserved Idaho communities in improving access to primary medical and dental health care. RHCAP awards may include clinician loan repayment, recruitment and retention incentives. RHCAP awards up to $35,000 for student loan repayment. 

2. Rural Provider Incentive Program (RPIP) 
Title 39, Chapter 59 of Idaho Code authorized a fund created by fees assessed to all Idaho students participating in the WWAMI and University of Utah state-supported medical education programs. This fund was created to offer payment towards qualified education debt of rural physicians who practice in areas of the state that are medically underserved and that demonstrate a need for assistance in physician recruitment. RPIP awards up to $100,000 for student loan repayment. 

3. State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) 
The SLRP program allows for the participation of full-time practitioners who work 40 hours per week in a nonprofit or public entity located in a federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). The practitioner is required to work a minimum of 45 weeks per year. Loan repayment is provided through a federal grant and every award must be matched dollar-to-dollar with funds provided by the practitioner’s employer. SLRP awards range from $10,000-$25,000 per year, depending on the matching employer contribution.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Idaho? The J-1 Visa Waiver program is underutilized in Idaho. However, the physicians in the program are having a tremendous impact on medically underserved areas throughout the state. Most of the slots remain open and we are eager when we receive new applications!

Are healthcare professionals valued in Idaho? In rural Idaho, doctors and healthcare providers are still seen as the cornerstone of a thriving community. Reminiscent of the old days when the county doctor was a key component to everyone’s life from birth to death, these medical professionals are key contributors and highly valued throughout all of Idaho’s communities.

Why do people travel to Idaho? With mountains, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, and farmlands, Idaho’s landscape is unique and beautiful. There are plenty of outdoor activities to participate in year-round while the cities are vibrant and lively. There is so much to discover, fun things do, and friendly people wherever you go. 

What sports teams does Idaho have? Idaho is home to the Idaho Stampede basketball team, Boise Hawks baseball team and the Idaho Steelheads hockey team. Additionally, with universities and colleges in every corner of the state, you will find a variety of collegiate sports teams, including the rivaling Boise State Bronco and University of Idaho football teams.

What is your favorite local food? I enjoy going to the local food markets where there is an abundance of fresh, organic, local produce, dairy, meats, and artisanal products. The craft beer and wine scene is booming and there are exceptional restaurants everywhere you go.

What is Idaho best known for? Our famous potatoes are world renowned. Also, it is called the Gem State for good reason. There have been at least 72-different precious and semi-precious gemstones found here! One of these fantastic gemstones is the star garnet, found only in India and right here in Idaho.

What is the biggest misconception about Idaho? People mistake us for Iowa a lot! We are in the intermountain west region of the U.S. and border Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah. 

What are the biggest industries in Idaho? 
Agriculture, healthcare, tourism, and technology are Idaho’s major industries. Large companies have a large economic impact on the state; including Albertsons, Micron Technologies, and WinCo Foods to name a few. Healthcare in Idaho has seen an increase in revenue by 46 percent over the past 10 years, with its projected growth to exceed an additional 36 percent in the coming years. This ranks Idaho as second in the nation for growth in the healthcare sector.

How is the weather/climate in Idaho? The weather in Idaho is much milder than most may think. Idaho’s climate is diverse and influenced by weather patterns off the Pacific Ocean. Generally, the northern part of the state receives more precipitation than southern Idaho, which has warmer summer temperatures. Idaho’s average low temperature in January is only a few degrees below freezing, while the summers boast an average high of 89 degrees in July.

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