Too few OSUMC residents staying, practicing in rural areas, trustee says
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Sunday, September 02, 2012
9/02/12 at 7:48 AM
An analysis of about 150 residents from Oklahoma State University Medical Center showed that most of those who came from out-of-state medical schools left Oklahoma when they finished their residency.
The analysis was requested by OSUMC Trustee Bob Poe and discussed Thursday at the regular meeting of the trust.
Poe believes not enough residents go on to practice in rural areas of Oklahoma, which is a stated mission of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. The college has an academic affiliation agreement with the hospital to manage the residency program.
Poe's report to the trust tracked 146 residents who graduated medical school between 2009 and 2012 and where they ended up practicing.
Of those who came from out-of-state medical schools, 78 percent practiced outside of Oklahoma.
Of all residents who stayed in the state to practice, 26 of them went to rural areas of the state and 69 to urban areas, according to Poe's report.
"I was really surprised by some of the numbers," Poe said during a meeting of the trust Thursday.
OSU Center for Health Sciences President Howard Barnett said in an interview that the percentages can be misleading because they are taken from small total numbers.
Getting residents to stay in Oklahoma and go to rural areas of the state to practice is a main goal of the college, he said.
"We need to continue to do everything we can to make sure the residents in Oklahoma stay in Oklahoma," he said.
Barnett said the best way to get a doctor to practice in rural Oklahoma is to recruit someone from rural Oklahoma.
The college has programs in place to try to find potential high school students and encourage them to go into the medical field, he said.
It continues to grow its rural residency program, which currently has about 25 slots, he said.
Also, there are not enough residency slots in Oklahoma to accommodate all the medical school graduates in the state, he said.
Poe recommends that program directors, who make the decision about who gets admitted to a residency, give preference to Oklahoma graduates and those with Oklahoma roots. He also suggests putting more residents in positions that tend to produce rural doctors and fewer in those that don't.
He encouraged the trust to get more involved in the process of choosing residents and to do so before November, when the next round is chosen.
Barnett said these changes may not be possible because of the process that matches graduates to their residency. It's complicated and involves several factors.
In a written response to Poe's report obtained by the Tulsa World, Barnett noted that all but one of the program directors are appointed by the hospital. His response alleged that they sometimes choose out-of-state graduates with the hope that the residents will practice out of state and therefore not be competition.
He also said that the program directors aim to pick the applicants who will make the best doctors possible, not just for Oklahoma.
During the meeting, trustee Trudy Milner said that is an important goal.
"We want to have an excellent program and produce excellent residents and fellows that go out to practice," she said.
Trustee Jay Helm said the hospital's rocky past could have made it difficult to recruit Oklahoma students to the residency slots. Four years ago the college was on the verge of collapse before raising money and striking a management agreement with St. John Health System.
The trustees agreed to continue to discuss the issue, possibly by appointing a committee to study it further.
OSUMC residents who graduated between 2009-12
Rural Oklahoma: 26
Urban Oklahoma: 69
Out of state: 50
Source: Oklahoma State University Medical Center analysis
Original Print Headline: Study: OSUMC residents don't stay
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
Bob Poe: OSUMC trustee recommends program directors give preference to Oklahoma grads and those with local roots.