Monday, May 16, 2016

Medical schools opening locations in under-served areas to help local areas grow their own doctors

To help fill doctor shortages in rural areas 84 percent of U.S. medical schools "have, or plan to establish, programs to recruit diverse students interested in working with underserved populations," Ellen Wexler reports for Inside Higher Ed. "Sometimes that means creating new locations in rural areas, in states at the bottom of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ lists. When students study in under-served locations, the hope is that they'll stick around." AAMC predicts that over the next nine years the U.S. will be short 61,700 to 94,700 doctors.

Since 2002, 20 new M.D.-granting and 10 new D.O.-granting medical schools have been established, Wexler writes. This fall the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine will open a new location at Arkansas State University. The goal is to help local students earn medical degrees to practice in Arkansas, which ranks 46th in active physicians per capita and 48th in its population's health status. Barbara Ross-Lee, dean of NYIT's new location, told Wexler, "In states that are experiencing shortages in physicians, the best way to supply more physicians is to grow your own."

Since many medical schools are already at capacity they unable to increase class sizes on their main campuses, Wexler writes. "That’s why some medical schools are operating on the campuses of other colleges instead of building their own spaces in new locations. The partnerships allow medical schools to grow enrollment while saving on expenses like infrastructure and staff support." Charles Bird, a former Ohio University administrator who now consults with colleges and universities about branch campuses, told Wexler, “This is a way to meet a real, legitimate need in a cost-effective way."

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