Monday, July 25, 2011
Want rural doctors? Start a rural medical school
Guaranteeing admission, forgiving student loans and giving rural applicants preference are among the solutions many states have tried to entice medical students to settle in rural communities after receiving their degrees. Having had little success with such programs, the University of Kansas is trying a different approach, one pioneered by Indiana University-Terre Haute, and similar to those of osteopathic medical schools in Appalachia.
Last week, KU opened a new medical campus in Salina, three hours from its main medical and research facilities in Kansas City, A. G. Sulzberger of The New York Times reports. Students will participate in lectures from the main campus via streaming video, but lab work will be overseen by practicing generalists as oppose to academic specialists. Officials hope the inaugural class of eight students will remain in Salina to practice medicine after graduation. (Read more)
"Many parts of the United States are sparsely populated geographic areas where people need medical care," William Cathcart-Rake, M.D., director of the KU School of Medicine-Salina and local oncologist, said in a release. " By training physicians in a non-metropolitan area, we are showing young medical students that life can be good, and practice can be stimulating outside of the big city."
While Salina, population 46,000, has become "the smallest city in the country to host a full medical degree program," as New York native Sulzberger writes (and a commenter below disputes), it's a big town to a lot of rural folks. Here's hoping it has an impact on smaller towns nearby, such as McPherson (13,000), Abilene (6,200) and even Ellsworth (2,400), marked on this Google map.