How To Address Arizona’s Physician Shortage

Published: Monday, October 14, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 12:00pm

The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts by 2030, the country will face a shortage up to 104,900 physicians. In Arizona, experts project we’ll be short 2,000. There are two key areas of focus.

First, Arizona needs more medical students. Guy Reed, dean at the University of Arizona Medical College in downtown Phoenix, recently told the City Council about a program to attract students from rural and underrepresented areas.

“We’re trying to move our pipeline so that we get students earlier and earlier on so that we enhance the diversity of our physicians,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Omaha-based Creighton University broke ground for its medical campus at Park Central in Phoenix. Dean Robert Dunlay said in five years, they’ll have nearly 900 local students.

And that leads to a second problem: Arizona doesn’t offer enough residencies and fellowships which provide specialized training after graduation. Dunlay presented numbers comparing Phoenix to Philadelphia which is closest in population size and Omaha where Creighton has a strong presence.

“So, Phoenix has a lot of growing to do in this area if they’re going to address the healthcare needs of the future,” Dunlay said.

By 2024, he said Creighton’s campus will offer 22 residency/fellowship programs and have about 300 residents.

Typically, 75% of physicians stay in the cities where they completed their residencies. Northern Arizona University says 84% of graduates from its nursing, therapy and physician assistant programs at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus stay in Arizona.

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