Arkansas medical school to open amid physician shortage

A new medical school is coming to Arkansas as the state’s aging physician community and medical residency funding issues continue to create a physician shortage, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The private Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Smith is scheduled to open in August 2017 with a class of 150. Faculty members expect to start interviewing prospective students in September, according to the report.

But the opening will occur as Arkansas needs more physicians, especially primary care physicians in rural areas.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette cites information from the Association of American Medical Colleges showing that Arkansas had about 5,800 physicians in 2014, and three out of every 10 of those physicians were at least 60 years old. And as older physicians near retirement, the demand for medical staff is growing, according to the report.

The new Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine will help boost the number of medical students graduating in Arkansas. However, these students may face challenges getting into a residency, which is necessary to eventually get a license and practice, because there are not enough residency positions in the state, Richard Wheeler, MD, executive associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Medicine at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

With this in mind, UAMS is looking to establish more residency programs at smaller, more rural hospitals in central and northeast Arkansas, according to the report.


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