Workforce Recruitment and Retention
The Washington State Office of Community Health Systems, Rural Health section can assist clinicians and students in several ways. We provide direct recruitment services, assistance with loan repayment programs and coordinate the J-1 Visa Waiver Program.
- J-1 Visa Waiver Program
The Washington State Department of Health administers the J-1 Physician Visa Waiver program. The goal of the program is to increase the number of physicians available to work in rural and underserved areas of the state. The program is considered a secondary tool in recruitment, used when efforts to recruit a U.S. trained physician have been unsuccessful for an extended period.
Washington State will sponsor up to 30 waivers per federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). During the first six months of the federal fiscal year:
- At least 20 of the total waivers are available to primary care physicians.
- Up to 10 of the total waivers are available to specialists.
- Practice location must be in a Health Professional Shortage Area or apply as a Non-HPSA waiver.
- Federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics hiring primary care J-1 physicians are encouraged to use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services J-1 Visa Waiver Program for Clinical Care.
- J-1 Physician Visa Waiver program background and overview information fact sheet
2023 J-1 Visa Program Application Cycle
Coming soon: New J-1 Physician and Employer Reporting process
There is a change coming soon to the reporting process under the Washington State J-1 Physician Visa Waiver program. Employers and physicians are required to submit annual reports to the Department of Health, and physicians are also required an additional report one-year post-obligation period. In the past, this reporting was completed on a .pdf form and sent to our office via email. However, to simplify the process, the reporting will now be completed online through a RedCap survey. The survey will be automatically sent out via email at the time it is due (attorneys will be cc’d on the email to physicians to help facilitate reporting as needed). Please ensure that you complete the survey as soon as possible after receipt to ensure compliance. Please also be sure we are kept informed of any changes in contact information and/or email addresses. If you have any questions, please email them to the J-1 Visa Waiver Program.
We hope that this automated process will help remind employers and physicians when reporting is due and to make reporting a little easier.
All new application requirement guidelines are effective October 1, 2022.
Please read the following application instructions closely:
- An electronic PDF version of the Washington State Waiver application package must be submitted via email. This email submission will serve as your date stamp for application review purposes.
- Only the secondary application being send to the Department of State will be mailed in.
- Submit documents in the order indicated on the application package required documents lists below.
- Provide a table of contents and labeled color pages to identify each document.
- Application package contents must be on 8.5”x 11” paper
- All documentation must have the U.S. Department of State Case Number on the bottom right-hand corner of each page.
- Please use a single fastener to hold together the pages of the application. Do not use staples or paperclips to attach documents together.
- Application package must be single sided.
- Electronic signatures are permissible at this time.
2024 Application Cycle Dashboard
Primary Care Slots Available Specialty Slots Available Number of Applications Received 19 open for applications now 0 open for applications now 14
Last updated on November 30, 2023
Health Professional Shortage Area Information
To see areas in Washington state that currently have Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations please consult the Health Resources and Services Administration Data Warehouse.
Applications and forms
Please use the forms below for applications and reports.
- Application for Washington State J-1 Visa Waiver Program (PDF)
- Specialist Waiver Addendum (PDF)
- Non-Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) Waiver Addendum (PDF)
- Physician attestation (PDF)
Full requirements for the applicant employer and physician can be found in the Washington Administrative Code 246-562: Rules governing J-1 physician waiver process. A summary is below.
Employer eligibility requirements
Employers can be for-profit, non-profit or government organizations. The employer must:
- Be licensed to do business in Washington State.
- Be located in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
- If located in a HPSA specific to a population, serve that population.
- Meet the criteria in WAC 246-562-075 if the practice location is not located in a federally designated HPSA.
- Be able to document at least six months of unsuccessful recruitment activity.
- Serve Medicare and Medicaid patients, with at least 15 percent of the total patient visits in the 12 months prior to application coming from Medicaid and/or other low-income patients (such as sliding fee discount and no pay).
- Have an updated sliding fee scale schedule available for patient use and signage letting patients know about the discounts posted in the waiting area.
- Have a signed employment contract containing all the required components with the J-1 physician for a term of three years.
- Contracts containing non-compete language will not be approved.
- Pay the physician the prevailing wage.
- Submit all required documents in the J-1 Physician Visa Waiver Application (PDF).
J-1 physician eligibility requirements
- On October 1 of each year, the physician must have completed either their training, or be in the final year of their training program.
- If not complete with their training, physicians must provide a letter of good standing from the training program including expected completion date.
- Physicians must be board-eligible or board certified.
- Primary care waivers are not available to physicians who have any sub-specialty training, except for geriatric and obstetrical fellowships.
- Physicians must have a signed contract with an eligible employer for three years of service. Physicians must have an active Washington State medical license or provide documentation of a pending application for their Washington State medical license.
- Submit required annual physician reports (PDF) to department after starting work.
- Physician must provide the following documents to their employer for inclusion in the J-1 Physician Visa Waiver Program Application (PDF).
- Copy of current Curriculum Vitae
- Copies of all DS-2019 forms (formerly IAP-66)
- Proof of passage of U.S. Medical Licensing Examinations (if not already licensed in Washington)
- Medical degree or diploma, translated as necessary (if not already licensed in Washington)
- U.S. Department of State data sheet
- Physician attestation statement
- Physician personal statement
- No objection statement or statement that physician isn't contractually obligated to return to their home country depending on which is applicable.
For additional information, please contact the J-1 Visa Waiver program manager by phone 360-236-2862 or email.
- Student Loan Resources
National Health Service Corps
Healthcare professionals interested in loan repayment opportunities with rural and urban underserved employers are encouraged to contact the Department's Direct Recruitment Program for more information.
- NHSC Loan Repayment Program is open to licensed primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health providers who are employed or seeking employment at approved sites.
- Students to Service Loan Repayment Program is open to dental students and allopathic and osteopathic medical students in their fourth year at an accredited medical or dental school.
- NHSC Scholarship Program is open to fulltime students pursuing a degree in Medicine (MD or DO), dentistry (DDS or DMD), advanced practice nursing, nurse midwifery or physician assistance.
A list of approved NHSC employers in Washington can be found on the NHSC Jobs Center site.
Washington State Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program
Washington has two loan repayment programs administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council.
- The State-Federal Loan Repayment Program and Washington State Health Professional Loan Repayment Program are open to a range of different healthcare professionals seeking employment at approved sites in Washington.
The federal NURSE Corps has two different programs that help nurses with education expenses:
The NURSE Corps Scholarship Program is open to students accepted or enrolled in a diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduating nursing program.
The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is open to licensed registered nurses (including advanced practice nurses) and nurse faculty working full time at an eligible critical shortage facility or school of nursing.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is managed by the U.S. Department of Education. Healthcare professionals and others employed by a government or nonprofit may be able to receive forgiveness of certain federal loans after working 10 years and making 120 qualifying monthly payments.
Student Loan Advocacy
Washington Student Achievement Council offers a Student Loan Advocacy Program that supports current and future student loan borrowers in Washington state. The Student Loan Advocates offer Public Service Loan Forgiveness information and work directly with loan borrowers to address complaints and help them navigate issues and identify resources.
- National Interest Waiver Program
The federal National Interest Waiver Program allows foreign physicians to request a waiver of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services labor certification requirements based on a letter of support from the Department of Health.
Foreign physicians working full time for five years in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas or whole-county medically underserved areas are eligible. Time spent in H1-B status to fulfill a J-1 Visa Waiver requirement may count towards the five-year requirement.
The Department of Health requires interested physicians to submit the following:
- A letter from their employer describing how their work in the shortage area will improve access to care and is in the public's interest.
- A copy of their contract showing they have completed or will complete five years of service.
Documents sent via UPS/FedEx:
Washington State Department of Health
Office of Community Health Systems, Rural Health Section
Attention: J-1 Visa Waiver program manager
111 Israel Rd. S.E. (MS: 7853)
Tumwater, WA 98504
Documents sent via U.S. Postal Service:
Washington State Department of Health
Office of Community Health Systems, Rural Health Section
Attention: J-1 Visa Waiver program manager
P.O. Box 47853
Olympia, WA 98504-7853
For additional information please contact:
J-1 Visa Waiver program manager
- Direct Recruitment
The Rural Health Section provides recruitment services for healthcare facilities located in rural and underserved areas statewide. Our goal is to ensure that the rural healthcare system in Washington state has the professionals needed to help build healthy communities.
Direct recruitment efforts are provided for the following types of practice sites:
- Rural areas, including Rural Health Clinics and Community Health Centers
- Tribal settings (Indian Health Service or self-governed)
- Urban sites providing care to medically underserved patients
- State correctional and mental health facilities
Primary recruitment focus areas are:
- Primary care physicians (family medicine, general internal medicine, general surgery, OB/GYN, pediatrics and psychiatry)
- Physician assistants (PA)-certified
- Advanced registered nurse practitioners (NP)
If you're a provider looking for employment opportunities, register here. This link takes you to 3RNET.org, a third-party site the Rural Health Section uses to assist us in our recruitment work. Contact information and resumes are kept private and only shared with hiring organizations with your permission.
If you're an employer seeking help with provider recruitment, posting an open vacancy, or would like information on programs and resources important to the health care workforce in rural and under-served areas see the 3RNET recruitment webpage.
National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNET)
As a member of the non-profit National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNET) we help health professionals access job opportunities in rural and underserved communities throughout the country. The best and easiest way to receive direct recruitment assistance is to register online at the 3RNET website.
Health Student/Residency Presentations
The Rural Health Sections Workforce Team travels the state to present to primary care medical residents, medical students, dental students, and advanced registered nurse practitioners/physician assistant (ARNP/PA) students. The discussion includes working in rural/underserved Washington, loan repayment programs and finding the right opportunity after graduation. We're always happy to consider requests for presentations, if interested email us.
Loan Repayment Opportunities
More information about the National Health Service Corps and Washington State Health Professional Loan Repayment Program is on the loan repayment section of our site.