McAlester health center to test new plans to attract doctors to rural areas
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 4:47 AM
McAlester Regional Health Center will host the first two residency programs as part of the Oklahoma Hospital Residency Training Program meant to increase the number of doctors serving rural Oklahoma, officials announced Wednesday.
The training program was created by the state Legislature and approved by Gov. Mary Fallin in June, along with $3.08 million to fund it.
The program, which allows contracting with the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, will soon be creating an increasing number of residencies at hospitals outside Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
The programs at McAlester will begin in July. One residency is in internal medicine and the other is family practice.
The new residencies are part of OSU's efforts to get more family practice doctors in rural communities. The state has a shortage of primary care doctors and rural areas suffer most, said OSU-Tulsa President Howard Barnett.
"It is absolutely a crisis," he said.
One determinant of where a doctor establishes a practice is where he or she did a residency. The idea is to get the doctor to be established in the community and want to stay there, he said.
"We've just got to get those folks training out there," he said.
Another determinant of practice location is where a doctor grew up, so OSU is working to recruit high school students from rural areas and has fast-track program agreements with several regional colleges, he said.
Having enough doctors also helps maintain hospitals in communities, which is important for stability and economic development, Barnett said.
Oklahoma needs more residency slots and Barnett anticipates the McAlester hospital will have no trouble finding residents for its new programs, he said.
"We're very excited and we hope to have more like it," he said.
In a statement, David Keith, president and CEO of McAlester Regional, said the residencies were exciting for the hospital.
"As a teaching hospital, MRHC will be at the forefront of the latest medical developments and bring improved quality of care and customer service to our patients," he said.
"Our strong affiliation with OSU and the teaching environment that results will certainly energize the hospital staff and our physicians. Our community also stands to benefit from the program as an economic driver and through increased access points of care for patients."
Original Print Headline: McAlester health center to host residencies
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378