Licensed Physicians in Demand for Rural States like Arkansas
While health care insurance seems to dominate national conversations right now, there is a related issue of equal concern at hand: a national shortage of physicians. What are the factors contributing to the shortage and can Arkansas keep pace with its growing demand for those holding a physicians license in Arkansas?
Aging populations, along with an increase in chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and smoking-related issues are creating a perfect storm and increasing demand for more licensed primary care physicians and specialty physicians in Arkansas.
“Arkansas has 120.9 primary care physicians per 100,000 population versus the U.S. average of 156.7, placing us eighth in the nation for primary care physician need,” Dr. Bala of the Arkansas Department of Health says. (1) Recruiting plans are in place to get medical students from rural areas who return to practice in the same area.
Why is There a Need For Doctors to Get a Physician License in Arkansas?
What are the contributing factors and can Arkansas keep pace with its growing demand for those who have a physician’s license in Arkansas? Reports from the Department of Health show that 50 of 75 Arkansas counties are medically under-served. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the College of Medicine and program director Christopher T. Westfall, MD. “Although we have worked to make Arkansas a national leader in retaining our medical graduates, Arkansas still has one of the worst physician shortages in the nation and we’re among the states projected as most likely to have serious primary care shortages by 2025.” (2)
After medical school, prospective providers are required to complete a residency program to refine their skills in specialty fields and obtain their license to practice. An arbitrary cap on the number of residents funded by Medicare, the primary source of payment for residents, has contributed to the doctor shortage and prevented medical school graduates who want to continue living and working in Arkansas for their residency the opportunity to do so. “It’s been a challenge for the people of Arkansas for as long as we can remember. It’s been difficult for us to keep up with the primary care needs,” according to UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson. (2)
“While Arkansas is posting growth in the primary care field, will supply keep pace with demand? And are Arkansas’ medical students foregoing primary care for more lucrative specialties?”
What are the Solutions to Bring Physicians to Arkansas?
When you consider housing, taxes, utilities and daily living expenses, the cost of living in Arkansas is considerably lower than in most areas of the country. “Arkansas ranked #10 on usatoday.com’s list of The Top 10 Least Expensive States to Live in the US.” (3) Rankings were based on the cost of things like groceries, housing and utilities. This makes it a good place to save some money while living there. Millennials will enjoy living in the downtown districts of the larger cities, and Arkansas has several large communities that are thriving with action.
UAMS is making waves amid a national physician shortage. The institution has received a $4.6 million grant with the goal of increasing the number of doctors in rural and under-served parts of the state through the Arkansas Medical Education Primary Care Partnerships project. “It’s a significant grant, and it’s one which is very much needed,” UAMS College of Medicine Dean Dr. Christopher Westfall said. “We would like to see this grant be used to help us better serve all Arkansans.” (4) More service projects and mentoring opportunities in rural towns will give medical students the experience in primary care.
This grant comes at a critical time for recruiting licensed physicians in Arkansas as the entire United State is expected to face a shortage of over 120,000 physicians by 2032, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
How Can You Apply for a Arkansas Medical License?
Qualified physicians are needed in Arkansas and the state is doing its part to ensure that these needs are met. Interested in relocating to be a part of helping with the shortage of physicians in Arkansas? To start the process of obtaining your Arkansas medical license, you’ll need to fill out forms that can be lengthy and daunting. Luckily, there are additional resources available that can make the application process simpler for you to obtain a healthcare license. Once you are licensed to practice medicine in Arkansas, you will be doing a service for those in need of quality healthcare. Acquiring your Arkansas physician license will help the state get control of some of its healthcare challenges.