The Conrad J-1 Waiver program allows states to sponsor ten (10) applicants out of the thirty (30) applications filed per federal fiscal year, October 1st thru September 30th , who meet the criteria of not working in a designated area but who serve patients from a designated area or areas. These J-1 waiver applications are commonly referred to as “FLEX” applications.
The thirty (30) J-1 Waiver applications per year are for primary care and sub-specialists. Preference for J-1 waivers is usually given to physicians in primary care: Family Practice, Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Internal Medicine, and Psychiatry. Some states may take a longer time to review FLEX slots applications, than for primary care applications.
Each state has specific documentary requirements that the healthcare facility and physician must meet in order to be eligibility for a FLEX spot. Most commonly, the healthcare facility and physician must provide a list of percentages of patients coming from HPSA/MUAs that meet the states acceptable level. Some states also require a number of letters of support from the surrounding communities to support the application showing that there is a need for a physician to work at the facility to serve the patients from the communities.
The Conrad FLEX program allows states to recommend waivers for physicians serving populations experiencing medical shortage but working outside of federally designated shortage areas. This program is an important source of qualified physicians for medically underserved areas and populations.