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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 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 Kate Lufkin, an MLRP alumna who’s a social worker at the South Boston Community Health Center.

Kate planned to continue to medical school and become a physician after she completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience.  After graduation she accepted a job at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) where she worked in a clinic on a research study.

At HSPH she discovered that she loved interacting with patients. She enjoyed learning about her patients’ medical histories; helping them to go through questionnaires; and learning about their eating habits and lifestyles. She realized that what she loved most about her job – getting to know patients in a personal way – she would not be able to do as a physician. She decided to change career paths, and enrolled in a graduate social work program.

By reducing the burden of Kate’s student debt, the MLRP played a significant role in Kate’s decision to work at the South Boston Community Health Center and has allowed her to continue working there.

“Financially, if I did not have the MLRP, I would not have been able to stay here as long as I have,” she said. “It was a huge incentive to stay at the Health Center, 100%.”

Participating in the program has allowed Kate to continue to do work with a community and a population that she finds personally rewarding and professionally fulfilling. Although she completed the MLRP several years ago, she continues to call the community health center her professional home.

Kate works with a diverse population at the center. While the facility serves all South Boston residents, Kate tends to work mostly with low-income, underserved patients. “We serve all across the socio-economic spectrum. Our underserved population is not any different from a normal population going into a doctor’s office. People that come into the office want to make changes in their lives, which is a common theme among people and isn’t necessarily dependent on their socio-economic status.”

Working together, we can ensure that all Massachusetts residents – regardless of where or how they live – have access to health care and health services.  Learn more about the MLRP and find out whether you or someone you know may qualify.

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