Recruitment & Retention Programs

Health Professions Students

Connecting Providers to Communities

The South Carolina AHEC has been committed to the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals in the state through initiatives that have been ongoing and evolving for more than 40 years.

Programs & Projects

The Rural Physician Program was initiated by the South Carolina Legislature in 1989 to address the undersupply of clinicians in rural and underserved South Carolina communities. The program provides incentive grants for primary care physicians and advanced practice professionals who commit to practice in a rural or underserved area of South Carolina for a period of four years. As of 2019, the program has funded over 500 primary care providers in rural communities throughout South Carolina. Statistics have shown that retention rates are greatly enhanced if these professionals remain in the site for four or more years. Since 1990, 89% of physicians who were awarded incentive grants are actively practicing in South Carolina.

Program Details & Eligibility

For more information about the incentives, provider eligibility and the contractual process, please read the Program Information document.

View Program Information Document (PDF)

Application Process

Applications for the next funding cycle are now being accepted and are due by March 15, 2020. All materials must be submitted through the online application portal by March 15, 2020.

To Apply:

  1. Review the sample application and make sure you have all of the necessary information ready.
  2. Apply online:

You will be able to save a PDF copy of your application when your application is submitted. If you have any questions, please contact the South Carolina AHEC program office at to confirm receipt.

Rural Incentive Program Documents

Apply Online

New Opportunity Available for Residents in South Carolina Family Medicine Residency Programs

The South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC) is pleased to announce resident recruitment incentive grants. Residents are eligible for the resident recruitment incentive if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Complete a South Carolina Family Medicine Residency Program
  • Agree to practice full-time primary care on an outpatient basis upon graduation
  • Practice in a whole county Geographic Health Professional Shortage Area*

The Rural Physician Program will guarantee** funding in the amount of $30,000 per year for four years ($120,000 total) to eligible residents who commit to service in one of these areas. Due to the limited number of slots available, these incentives are available on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible residents who submit a completed application packet, which includes the Rural Physician Program application, a Practice Site Profile completed by the intended practice site, and a Letter of Intent signed by the applicant and the practice site. Residents may apply at any time during their residency training. It is expected that the provider will become board certified within two years of completion of residency.

Questions & Application Process for Resident Incentives

Applications are due by March 15 of each year. The resident recruitment incentives are a new component to the South Carolina AHEC Rural Physician Program. For more information and to apply, please contact Kristin Cochran at or 843-792-6977.

*Eligible counties are those counties that are whole county geographic HPSAs as of December 2019: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Chester, Chesterfield, Colleton, Fairfield, Hampton, Lee, Marlboro, McCormick, Saluda, Union, and Williamsburg.

** Funding for the Rural Physician Program and resident recruitment incentive grants is conditional upon continued funding from the state of South Carolina and a contract with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. A reduction in funding from either source may result in the termination of this program.

Program Administration

The Legislature of South Carolina provides that the Medical University of South Carolina is the state agency responsible for administering the South Carolina AHEC. A high priority of South Carolina AHEC is the recruitment and placement of health care providers. The state legislature has provided funds to South Carolina AHEC to assist in the recruitment and placement of primary care physicians and advanced practice providers in designated underserved areas of South Carolina.

The program is administered by South Carolina AHEC and managed by the Rural Physician Board, the members of which are defined in the South Carolina Code of Laws. This board meets periodically to vote on applicants and to discuss other items of business. The Rural Physician Board is composed of representatives from the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association, the South Carolina Medical Association, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, the South Carolina DHEC, the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the USC School of Medicine, an appointee of the South Carolina House of Representatives Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, an appointee of the South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee, and three at-large members with two representing nursing and one representing allied health sciences.

In July of 2005, the Rural Dentist Program was established by the South Carolina Legislature. The funds for this program are appropriated to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and are administered by the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium. The program assists in the repayment for educational loans of dentists who practice in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or serve as full-time faculty at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine. The expectation is that during their commitment period these dentists will establish viable community practices or academic careers at the College of Dental Medicine, become involved in their respective communities and remain after the funding period is over. Priority for this program is given to those demonstrating need and expressing intent to remain in an underserved area or in an area of critical need at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine.

Application Process

The application cycle is currently open. Applications are due by February 15, 2020.

An email will be sent to each applicant confirming the application packet is complete. If an email isn’t received within three business days, please email the South Carolina AHEC program office at to confirm receipt.

Download Fact Sheet & Application (PDF)

Download Faculty Fact Sheet & Application (PDF)

Hiring incentives are available to advanced practice registered nurses at South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) health clinics to participate in the Choose Well initiative. These incentives are made possible by a grant from the New Morning Foundation.

The Choose Well initiative seeks to improve South Carolina's rate of unintended pregnancies through improving access to effective contraceptive methods and training providers to counsel about and offer these methods.

$10,000 hiring incentives are available*

*Must be an APRN employed full-time with DHEC and hired between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 to apply. Recipients must participate in the Choose Well initiative. The number of available incentives is limited and eligibility criteria apply (see application for details).

Download the Application (PDF)

Using funds from the Marlboro County General Hospital Foundation, South Carolina AHEC will provide loan repayment to medical practitioners (physicians, advanced clinical practitioners and registered nurses) who practice in Marlboro County, South Carolina.

The purpose of the payments will be to attract medical practitioners to Marlboro County. Amounts will be determined by fund availability and will be set by South Carolina AHEC from time to time. The present policy is that physicians will be paid up to $25,000 for each year of service in Marlboro County, advanced clinical practitioners up to $15,000 per year and registered nurses up to $10,000. Contracts will be for a four-year period. Payments will be made annually the 13th month following 12 months of continuous full-time employment. See application packet for eligibility details.

Download the Application (PDF)

Why Work Rural? Testimonials from Those Who Know (Video)

South Carolina Recruitment & Retention Resources (Video)

Download more information (PDF) about South Carolina recruitment & retention programs or view a transcript (PDF) of the video.


South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium educates, recruits and retains healthcare providers for the state.

South Carolina AHEC is a state agency that was originally established in 1972.


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