Yakima Valley desperately needs more doctors

Doctor with patient
The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the U.S. could lose as many as 100,000 doctors by 2025 and primary care physicians are already in short supply—particularly in rural areas.

There is no shortage of apples, grapes or hops in southeast Washington state's Yakima Valley. The same cannot be said for primary care doctors. 

Like many other rural areas of the country, there are not enough doctors in Yakima Valley to meet the demand, according to YakimaHerald.com.

It’s hard to attract doctors to the rural area when many low-income residents and a limited number of residency slots add to the shortage, the newspaper said. In addition, providers spend less time on patients and more hours on meeting ever-increasing documentation requirements.

The area has lost about 19 primary care providers in the last three years, according to Matt Kollman, Chief Operating Officer of Memorial Physicians, which oversees the outpatient clinics of the Virginia Mason Memorial system. Each doctor served about 1,500 to 2,000 patients.

“It feels like we add a lane to the freeway, and there’s just more cars that come on,” Kollman told the newspaper. Despite recruitment efforts, there aren’t enough physicians to fill vacancies.

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the U.S. could experience a shortage of as many as 100,000 doctors by 2025 and primary care physicians are already in short supply—particularly in rural areas. Frustrations from burnout and time spent on electronic health records ran so high among doctors that more than half of the physicians in a national survey considered leaving the profession in recent years.