Tuesday, August 11, 2015

States with doctor shortages lack enough residencies to keep medical school grads local

Some states experiencing doctor shortages lack enough residencies to keep medical school graduates in state, Rebecca Beitsch reports for Stateline. Overall, 68 percent of doctors who receive all their training in one state stay in that state, compared to 47 percent of doctors who stay in the state where they performed their residency alone.

Iowa, which only has 238 residency positions available, graduated 369 medical students last year. Missouri had a shortage of 186 positions and Tennessee 200, Beitsch writes. That means that states with plenty of residencies, such as New York, California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, are snagging medical students from other states and often keeping them once they finish and begin practicing. (Stateline map)
"This is the world of medical resident matching," Beitsch writes. "When states don’t have enough residency positions for the medical students they’ve trained, they become resident exporters. When states have more residency positions than they have students to fill them, they become importers. So while some states spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to support medical schools and build new ones, a handful are recognizing that it’s just as important to invest in residency programs—to increase the number of doctors practicing within their borders."

"Across the U.S., the number of medical students in each state tends to correspond to population, but there is a disproportionately large number in the Northeast, where medical education got its start in the late 1700s," Beitsch writes. "But as many states have expanded the number of medical students they train, the growth in residency slots has proceeded at a slower pace, pushing many graduates to California and the Northeast, where there are extra slots." (Read more)

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