The physician shortage: Lack of residency positions driving new doctors outside state

There are more medical school graduates each year in Oklahoma than there are residency slots in hospitals for them to complete their training.

According to the Oklahoma State Medical Association, a perennial shortage of residency slots within the state for newly minted doctors is among reasons why declining access to health care is a serious and rising concern, especially in rural parts of the state. If an Oklahoma medical school graduate isn’t able to get a residency position in a hospital, clinic or other medical facility and has to go to some other state to complete training, chances of that doctor ever returning to practice in Oklahoma are low, OSMA Executive Director Wes Glinsmann said.

Limits on funding for graduate medical education, or GME, and on residency slots are not issues unique to the Sooner State. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a federal cap on Medicare funding for GME hasn’t been raised since 1997, despite a nearly 30% increase in medical school enrollments across the country. That has put a strain on resources of teaching hospitals and other facilities and thus limits on numbers of residency slots that they can provide each year for medical school grads.



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