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Anne Barleon PattyKilloranPosted by Anne Barleone (left) and Patty Killoran, interns in the Primary Care Office at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

This is another in a series of profiles of health care professionals who have benefited from the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program. The MLRP works to increase access to comprehensive primary care in underserved areas, by providing up to $50,000 towards outstanding educational loans for health professionals who commit to work at an eligible health care organization for two full-time years.      

Today we’re profiling Dr. Terry Osborne, a practicing psychiatrist in Worcester. In college Terry found that he was drawn to psychiatry because it represented the intersection of three of his interests: psychology, brain, and behavior. Explaining his journey to become a psychiatrist, Terry told us “it was while I was in medical school in Philadelphia that I saw up close how mental illness can affect people’s lives, and I had the patience to truly hear their stories.”

While in his residency Terry discovered that he enjoyed practicing community psychiatry. He found working with underserved populations to be especially fulfilling. During this time he realized that not all people are the same — they experience a spectrum of mental illnesses.

Currently Terry works at a federally qualified health center (FQHC). FQHC’s are safety net providers such as community health centers, public housing centers, outpatient health programs funded by the Indian Health Service, and programs serving migrants and the homeless. FQHC’s increase access to primary care services in underserved areas.

Terry Osborne

Terry’s patients come from both urban and suburban communities and have a full range of psychiatric disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction.  Many of his patients are not familiar with mental health services, which can make his work challenging. He notes, “many of my patients have never seen a psychiatrist or been on a psychiatric medication.” Terry works closely with his patients’ primary care team to ensure they have the multiple support systems in place that are necessary to successfully treat mental illness.

The Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program has significantly reduced the financial burden of Terry’s student loan debt, and the stress that accompanies that kind of mounting debt. “The reality of student debt hits pretty hard after graduation,” Terry noted.

Because he hasn’t had to get a second job to pay off his student loans, Terry is able to spend more time with his family. What’s more, the MLRP affords him the opportunity to work at a lower salary, but with a population and community that he finds personally and professionally rewarding.

To find out more about the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program, visit www.mass.gov/dph/primarycare.

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