Psychiatrists awarded $2.3M in student loan relief

San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) psychiatrists have been awarded a state grant of $2.3 million in student loan pay-offs in exchange for their commitment to serve low-income individuals and families in the county. 

In July, CalHealthCares, a Department of Health Care Services program, announced the names of the physicians selected to receive the award for the April 2019 cycle. Of the total 247 awardees, 8 were DBH psychiatrists. According to the CalHealthCares website, the advisory council considered the applicants current and proposed caseload of Medi-Cal beneficiaries and threshold language(s) spoken at work, among other factors, in determining who would receive an award. CalHealthCares repays educational loan debt up to $300 k in exchange for a five-year commitment to hold a caseload made up of a minimum of 30 percent Medi-cal beneficiaries. 

For DBH Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist Dr. Rishi M. Parikh, the award is a welcome relief from the financial burden that accompanies attending medical school. “With student debt at an all-time high, early career psychiatrists have to routinely think of their own debt when making major life decisions such as getting married, having children, or buying a home,” said Dr. Parikh. “This award eases student debt burden and allows one to focus on family and the community we serve.” 

“This award confirms DBH psychiatrists’ commitment to serve the most severely and persistently mentally ill in San Bernardino County,” said DBH Director Veronica Kelley. “It also supports our department’s efforts to ensure that the residents of the San Bernardino County, the geographically largest county in the country, have access to quality behavioral health.”  

DBH provides inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance use disorder services to San Bernardino County residents who are uninsured and/or on Medi-Cal, in addition to providing community crisis and disaster response services. Learn more about DBH services by visiting

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