The state of Maryland is seeking doctors willing to practice in needy areas of the state, in exchange for up to $50,000 to repay student loans.

The Maryland Loan Assistance Repayment Program was launched in 1996 and 157 primary care doctors have gone through the Program. Currently, 30 are employed in Baltimore city and county and Anne Arundel, Garrett and Worcester county.

“Having a sufficient supply of primary care physicians across the state is critical to improving the health status of Maryland citizens,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in a statement. The department is partnering with the state’s Higher Education Commission on the program.

“Educational loan repayment programs can encourage primary care physicians to provide services in areas of Maryland that traditionally struggle to attract and retain physicians,” Sharfstein said.

The state will pick up to six more primary care doctor in 2012. Applications will be accepted through April 23. The doctors in family practice, internal medicine, osteopathic general practice, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics and general psychiatry must work in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area.

A map of the areas is here. For more information, call 410-767-5046 or click here.