Dentist who received $300K CalHealthCares Student Loan Repayment shares tips for applying in 2020

Eligible California dentists, dental students, physicians and medical residents can apply beginning Jan. 13 for up to $300,000 in student loan repayment or a practice support grant through the Proposition 56 Medi-Cal Physicians and Dentists Loan Repayment Program, known as CalHealthCares. In return, award recipients are required to make a strong commitment to serving Medi-Cal members by maintaining a patient caseload of at least 30% Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Additional requirements apply.

Marc Bernardo, DMD, MPH, one of 38 dentists awarded a CalHealthCares Student Loan Repayment in June 2019, encourages dentists and dental students who are interested in applying to start preparing now. 

“Do some research on the patient pool that you currently serve – how many Denti-Cal patients you have, how many Denti-Cal patients you expect to have, because that’s very, very important,” said Dr. Bernardo in a short video interview with CDA.

The Moreno Valley dentist also recommends that individuals take steps to ensure they have the required letter of recommendation in place come application time. The letter must be from someone who works with the applicant in a clinical setting. Bernardo says approaching them now with the request will give them plenty of time to get a recommendation letter prepared.

Eligible individuals should apply Jan. 13 through Feb. 7, 2020. Interested applicants can prepare now by visiting the CalHealthCares website and reading the complete eligibility requirements or attending an upcoming one-hour informational webinar. The webinar about the student loan repayment will take place Dec. 11, Jan. 9, Jan. 15, Jan. 21, Jan. 27 and Feb. 4.

A webinar specific to the practice support grant took place Nov. 20, and a recorded version will be available soon for viewing. Other previously recorded webinars address common errors found on applications submitted in 2019 — the first year for the program. Applicants who applied in 2019 but did not receive an award are encouraged to watch one of these webinars and review the Q&A.

Additional resources for all applicants include a preparation checklist and directions for calculating patient caseload.

DHCS will notify all applicants of their awards on or around May 1.

The CalHealthCares program is funded by Proposition 56, the state tobacco tax that CDA supported and voters passed at the polls in 2016. Find more coverage about the program, including information about the 2019 award recipients, at 

Apply Jan. 13 through Feb. 7 at