- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - The University of Kentucky College of Medicine announced it is expanding educational opportunities to address a shortage of physicians in the state.

UK is developing a four-year satellite program in Bowling Green and will expand its Rural Physician Leadership Program in Morehead, the university said in a statement.

The initiative partners UK, Morehead State and Western Kentucky with local hospitals and is scheduled to begin as early as 2018. The statement said UK is at capacity at its Lexington campus and it can’t increase enrollment without collaborating with other institutions.

“The commonwealth of Kentucky has a shortage of physicians, and especially primary care physicians, throughout the state, but particularly in rural areas,” UK President Eli Capilouto said in announcing the initiative. “This is an acute health care need and an economic one as well.”

Details of the arrangement are still being worked out, but UK officials said they have signed memorandums of understanding with the other schools and hospitals.

There are 521 students enrolled in UK’s College of Medicine. The partnership will allow that number to increase by about 30 percent.

The Kaiser Family Foundation in 2014 said that Kentucky had 132 geographical areas where there was a primary care health professional shortage either in primary medical, dental or mental health.

UK already has been partnering for several years with Morehead State through the Rural Physician Leadership Program, where students complete their third and fourth years of medical training with rural-centered clinical experiences.

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