Provider Shortage Threatens Rural Primary Care

Nearly half — 44 percent — of rural areas in the United States are experiencing a shortage of primary care practitioners, according to a panel of physicians at Rural Health Journalism 2014 covered by the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Furthermore, the U.S. ranked lowest in both primary care and health outcomes in a comparison to ten other nations, the panelists said.

"Medical schools should recruit students from rural backgrounds," said Mark A. Richardson, MD, dean of the School of Medicine at Portland-based Oregon Health & Science University, in response to how to boost physician numbers in rural primary care. Dr. Richardson also recommended that medical schools should require rural training.

Furthermore, the panelists suggested graduates should be offered loan forgiveness or scholarships in exchange for practicing in rural areas. They also suggested lifting the government-imposed cap on graduate medical education spending, according to the article.

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