Arizona hospitals outline plan to tackle doc shortage

Three large health providers in Arizona are partnering with a university to create a program aimed at combating the looming physician shortage

Maricopa Integrated Health System’s Maricopa Medical Center, a 449-bed level 1 trauma center; Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, a 507-bed facility; and District Medical Group, which includes more than 650 doctors, will join forces with Creighton University School of Medicine, according to a column written by officials at all four organizations that was published in the Arizona Republic.

The three Phoenix-area providers and the Omaha, Nebraska-based university will work together to design new clinical education programs in a number of areas, according to the column, including nursing--which is facing its own shortage--pharmacy and allied health through a partnership called the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance.

The goal of the program is to expand the number of doctors and other health professionals in Arizona through medical school enrollments and additional Graduate Medical Education slots at the teaching hospitals.

Though formal plans are still in the works, and national accreditation is pending, the alignment is slated to begin in July of next year, according to the article. An accelerated nursing program is set to follow in January 2018.

“We understand the consequences of a physician shortage, and through our Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance, we are working hard to train physicians to serve patients across Arizona,” the authors wrote.

Health systems looking to head off the potential doc shortage should invest in education and training programs, FierceHealthcare previously reported. A strong pipeline is key--so much so that major health networks, like Geisinger Health System, have acquired their own medical schools instead of merely aligning with an existing one.