- Associated Press - Thursday, May 10, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers and health care groups are working to remedy the state’s physician shortage by keeping their medical students in-state.

About 21 percent of Missouri’s medical school graduates stay in the state, according to an Association of American Medical Colleges report. Missouri’s medical schools graduate about 1,000 students each year, but the state offers about 725 residency slots.

The lack of medical residency slots may contribute to the physician shortage, said James Stevermer, a University of Missouri School of Medicine professor. Evidence suggests many medical residents practice near where they completed their residencies, he said.

“If we can train students in Missouri, there is a higher chance that they will stay in Missouri,” Stevermer said.

The Missouri Hospital Association and the Missouri Healthcare Workforce Coalition are collaborating with lawmakers to boost residency funding, the Columbia Missourian reported .

Inadequate funding is the biggest factor in the lack of residency slots, according to health officials.

Medicare finances the majority of medical training, said Christine Jacobs, a professor at the St. Louis University Department of Family and Community Medicine. Hospitals are limited in the amount of money for residency slots based on the number of Medicare-funded patients, she said. Hospitals are given a particular number of residents to train, which is capped by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.

The coalition is lobbying to increase the cap and funding of hospitals.

Republican Rep. Keith Frederick is also sponsoring a bill to streamline the 2014 law that created the assistant physician position for medical school graduates who lack a residency.

The bill modifies the law to give candidates four years to apply, and would only require that applicants complete the second step of the medical licensing examination. The bill would also expand the assistant physician position’s responsibilities so they can provide medical services in addition to primary care services.


Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com

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