Post Content

AlexisDonnarummaPosted by Alexis Donnaruma, an intern 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 (MLRP). 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.      

During college Dr. Nader Vakili satisfied his passion for science through coursework – and those science classes ended up leading him to a career in healthcare. “I kind of fell into the health field,” he says, and found himself wanting to provide care for underserved populations. “It had something to do with how my parents raised me, always trying to help those in need.” He laughed and added, “It had nothing to do with the money.”

Today, Dr. Vakili works as a general dentist at the Edward Kennedy Health Center in Framingham, providing everything from regular cleanings to emergency care to patients of all ages, most of whom are on MassHealth. The dental clinic is small, and Dr. Vakili is one of only two dentists on staff.

NaderVakiliAsked about his typical work day, Dr. Vakili simply replies “it’s hectic”. The hours are long and patients are scheduled every half hour for most procedures. By the end of the day he is likely to have seen up to 20 patients, each with different complications. Many patients speak only Spanish or Portuguese, and many are medically compromised – all of which add further layers of complexity to the appointments.

Still, Dr. Vakili finds his work rewarding. “I am helping people out and doing my part in helping those in need,” he told us. He educates his patients on the importance of oral hygiene, to help make the connection between a healthy mouth and overall good health. “I am trying to help people everyday by preventing and eliminating disease,” he says.  

It was while overseas in Germany serving as a dentist for the United States Army that Dr. Vakili began researching loan repayment options.  He was interested in working at the Edward Kennedy Community Health Center, but knew the pay would be lower than that of a private practice — and not enough to cover his student loans in addition to other living expenses. When he discovered the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program (MLRP) and learned that the Edward Kennedy Community Health Center qualified, the possibility of working with the underserved suddenly seemed more feasible. He accepted the position at the health center and soon after was accepted into the MLRP. It’s made a huge difference in his life. “If it weren’t for the MLRP, I would have probably been forced to practice in the private sector or get a second job,” he says, “neither of which I would want to do.”

For more information on the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program, visit our website or the MLRP Facebook page. If you’re interested in applying, please fill out an application.

Written By:


health communication writer and editor

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Weekly Flu Report, April 29, 2016 posted on Apr 29

Rates of flu-like illness rose slightly in the past seven days, according to the latest weekly flu report. Flu vaccination opportunities continue to be available in your community – call your health care provider or local board of health, or visit a pharmacy near you.

Let’s Keep Workers Safe: Plan. Provide. Train. posted on Apr 28

Today is Workers’ Memorial Day — the international day to remember workers who were injured, disabled, made unwell, or who died on the job. In just a six-year-period, in Massachusetts, 356 workers died on the job (2008-2013). These workers were our family members, friends and neighbors   …Continue Reading Let’s Keep Workers Safe: Plan. Provide. Train.

Vegetable Makhanwala posted on Apr 26

Vegetable Makhanwala

Back by popular demand, Kinnari Chitalia, RD, LDN, CLC, a nutritionist at the Dorchester North WIC Program, shares this mouthwatering favorite! This is a popular traditional dish in the northern part of India.  Its name refers to a creamy dish mixed with vegetables and aromatic   …Continue Reading Vegetable Makhanwala