- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A lack of college medical residency programs in South Dakota is contributing to a shortage of primary health care options, the State Medical Association says.

The association estimates that one-fourth of South Dakotans - many of them in rural western areas - face a shortage of health care options. A statewide shortage of doctors that’s a major contributing factor is exacerbated by the lack of college residency programs, association President Mary Milroy told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1txq6fi ).

The number of federally funded graduate-residency spots has been capped, meaning many South Dakota medical students have to leave the state for their residency programs, she said. South Dakota has the sixth-worst ratio of medical students to graduate-residency positions in the nation - 225 medical students but only 134 residency spots.

“We know that 40 percent of people who get their medical degree in South Dakota stay in South Dakota,” she said “But if they train a residency here, it’s about 77 percent. So if they don’t leave the state for medical education, they’re about twice as likely to stay and practice in South Dakota.”

Three bills before Congress would increase the number of federally funded graduate medical education positions by 15,000 over five years. If passed, the legislation would provide critical funding to help expand South Dakota’s residency slots, Milroy said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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