Rural states unite to combat physician shortages

Residency Program Insider, August 28, 2019

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According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to experience a physician shortage of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by the end of the next decade. This shortage will be due in part to increasing demand for medical care from a large aging population as well as high numbers of physicians approaching retirement. Rural areas are already experiencing difficulty; they accounted for 60% of the more than 7,200 areas identified as lacking adequate healthcare and resources.

In an attempt to combat this shortage, rural western states Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming partnered to create WWAMI at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The program is designed to provide medical education to residents of these five states, train them specifically to practice medicine in rural areas, and ultimately encourage them to return home to their respective states and provide medical care there.

In the program, students learn rural medicine firsthand through six clinical rotations, four of which take place in rural communities within the five states while the remainder are completed at the University of Washington. So far, the program has been a success, with all five states maintaining a return on investment rate (meaning the number of physicians the state has who graduated from WWAMI over the number of students the state put into the program) of 57% or more. Idaho currently boasts the highest rate at 75%.

Source: U.S. News

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