Friday, May 13, 2016

Food for Thought: Need Rural Doctors? Import a Medical School

May 13, 2016 by Ellen Wexler

"Over the next nine years, the country will be short 61,700 to 94,700 doctors, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts. But the shortage is spread unevenly across the country, with some states suffering far more than others. Massachusetts, for instance, has more than 400 physicians per 100,000 people, while Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, and Wyoming all have fewer than 200.

To address the problem, medical schools are experimenting with ways to graduate more doctors. Since 2002, M.D. - granting-medical-school enrollment has grown by 25 percent, and it is expected to increase by 32 percent by 2020, according to a new report from the AAMC. And at D.O.-granting medical schools, enrollment is expected to increase by 55 percent.

While much of that growth comes from expansion at existing schools, some of it comes from the creation of new medical schools. Since 2002, 20 new M.D.-granting medical schools and 10 new D.O.-granting medical schools have been established.

Over all, 84 percent of medical schools have -- or plan to establish -- programs to recruit diverse students interested in working with underserved populations. Sometimes that means creating new locations in rural areas, in states at the bottom of the AAMC's lists. When students study in underserved locations, the hope is that they'll stick around."

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