Physician shortage problems will get worse

Despite several large-scale efforts geared toward physician retainment, a new report from the Virginia Department of Health Professions shows that the commonwealth's current doctor shortage problem is likely to only get worse in the years ahead, the Roanoke Times reports. Currently, Virginia ranks 31st in the nation, based on the percentage of medical school graduates who choose to remain in the state. Only 35 percent of Virginia medical school graduates choose to stay, while only 39 percent of medical residents do the same. 

What's more, by 2030, the state's physician shortage is expected to climb to 2,700. 

"We are definitely on the verge of a tremendous gap in our supply and demand of physicians," Elizabeth Carter, director of the Department of Health Professionals Virginia Healthcare Workforce Data Center, told the Daily Press. "It will only worsen." 

Just two years ago, Virginia set aside $50 million to go toward supporting medical education in the state. In addition, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine last month enrolled its inaugural class. In combination with the opening of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2003 and the recent expansion of Eastern Virginia Medical School, the number of medical school graduates in the state will increase to 786 by 2015, according to Virginia Health and Human Resources Secretary William Hazel. 

Still, more needs to be done, like recruiting more regionally based students, Dr. Jan Willcox, vice dean at Edward Via College, told the Times. "The way to retain them is to keep them here for residency," Willcox said. "You become more involved with the community and really develop longer relationships." 

Dr. Arthur Garson, University of Virginia provost, thinks that funding residency programs with state dollars or offering to pay off student loans also could serve as enticing incentives. "A medical school education could cost about $500,000," he told the Daily Press

To learn more:
- read these facts and trends from the Virginia Department of Health Professions
- check out this Physician Forecasting report
- here's the Roanoke Times article
- read the Daily Press piece