Study by Missouri Hospital Association Finds Primary Care Workforce Shortage

A study by the Missouri Hospital Association suggests that rural areas of the state face a shortage of primary care providers, which could create negative consequences for rural health improvement efforts, according to an MHA news release.

The study found, on average, there is one physician for every 1,776 rural Missourians — a significant different than one for every 962 residents found in the state's metropolitan areas.

The age of the rural physician workforce is also a concern as Missouri's rural primary care physicians on average are older than their metro-area counterparts. In rural areas, the percentage of rural physicians 50 and older is 62 percent, compared to 55 percent statewide.

Replacing aging physicians could be a challenge — they earn less and work longer hours than those in metropolitan areas.

The report provides several policy options for consideration. Cost is one of the major considerations for medical students choosing specialty physician training over primary care. Programs similar to the state's Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri could help offset some of the costs incurred by medical students who might otherwise choose primary care in a rural setting. The report also suggests that stronger science-based programs in rural primary and secondary schools may prepare more students from rural areas with the necessary prerequisites and motivation to pursue medical education and return to a rural care setting.

Read the MHA release on Missouri primary care.

Related Articles About Missouri Hospitals:
David Feess Chosen to Lead Missouri's Liberty Hospital as President, CEO
Chris Howard Named President, CEO Designate of SSM Health Care-St. Louis
Missouri's Moberly Regional Medical Center CEO Stephen Lunn Steps Down

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