Missouri aims to fill rural physician shortages with 'assistant physicians': 5 key notes

Written by Laura Dyrda | May 30, 2017 | Print  |

New Missouri legislation seeks to fill the gaps in rural healthcare with "assistant physicians" — individuals who complete medical school but aren't placed in residency programs for certification, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Here are five things to know:


1. Missouri passed legislation in 2014 creating the "assistant physician" category, and now seeks to broaden the law. The state began accepting "assistant physician" applications in January, but there were some who lost eligibility due to the time lapse between medical school graduation and the state beginning to accept applications. The new legislation would allow those individuals to apply.


2. Missouri is the first state seeking to place "assistant physicians" in rural areas, and hopes to become a model for other states. Arkansas and Kansas have "slimmed-down" versions of the legislation and a similar concept has been considered in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington.


3. Already 127 people applied for Missouri's program and 23 have received licenses to practice; another 44 are under review.


4. There are around 6,800 places in the U.S. reporting primary care physician shortages, and 225 are in Missouri, according to the report.


5. Under Missouri's current program, 55 applications for an "assistant physician" license were denied, many due to the time lapse between medical school graduation and the application submission.


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