National physician shortage impacts rural healthcare

Associated Press

FLORENCE, Ore. (AP) – Nationally, about 23,000 physicians leave practice each year, while only 16,000 new ones are there to replace them.

And the trend is even sharper in rural areas. USA Today says that’s put rural healthcare providers in a bad position.

Dr. Ron Shearer says they are having to limit the number of patients that they’re seeing. Shearer is the medical director of PeaceHealth Medical Group in Florence.

He says limiting patients is just a temporary remedy. The real fix, he says, will come in recruiting replacements for those who retire or move on. So Shearer says they’ve increased the starting salary for a new physician.

But Shearer says it’s not all about the money.

A lot of 30-somethings like the cultural and social life of larger cities — making it that much more difficult for rural communities.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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