A program 10 years in the making aimed at chipping away at El Paso’s doctor shortage is seeing some promising progress.

Under the plan, local medical school students are eligible for a loan of $20,000 per year for four years. That loan is then forgiven if the students establish their medical practice in El Paso after graduation and residency.

The program is sponsored by the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation in partnership with the Texas Tech Foster School of Medicine.

“Compared to other cities in Texas and around the country, we have a shortage of health care providers,” Tracy Yellen, Paso Del Norte Health Foundation CEO told KTSM.

“(This program) shows the promise of the four-year medical school, which was to grow our own doctors and grow our medical workforce for our community,” she said.

Yellen said two former students-now doctors have taken advantage of the program, Dr. Iris Tomas and Dr. Jennifer Perez, both originally from the El Paso area.

“El Paso is a great place to have a practice and it’s a great place to raise a family,” Perez told KTSM. “There is a lot of need here, and the patients are very appreciative and grateful for your care.”

The health foundation said another 15 students are currently enrolled in the program. Those who chose not to set up in El Paso will have to pay the money back. Those funds will then be used for future loans.