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New Mexico faces doctor shortage

Colton Shone
April 12, 2017 06:22 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico is facing a doctor shortage and it's poised to get even more challenging as doctors start to retire in the next few years. But a new report says the state is making strides to fix that.

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There is some good news when it comes to doctors in the state. According to the latest New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee, New Mexico did see a net gain of doctors in 2016. But to meet national benchmarks, the state still needs 124 primary care physicians, 201 nurse practitioners and clinical specialists, 109 psychiatrists and 292 pharmacists.

"It's very challenging to recruit and retain physicians and other health care providers in rural areas," said UNM Health Sciences Center Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Larson.

He said the median age for physicians in our state is also the oldest in the country at 54, close to retirement age.

"This will add additional pressure to make our recruitment of physicians to New Mexico," Larson said.

He says the way to solve this shortage problem in rural communities is to make loan repayment programs more enticing and expanding the current limit of two years of service.

"You want to loan repayment program to be long enough that the provider becomes part of the community and become integrated during their practice," he said.

Larson said that overall the past couple of years have shown a great improvement in attracting doctors to New Mexico and he hopes that trend continues. 

Credits

Colton Shone

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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