Friday, February 19, 2016

UK medical school says it will establish satellite in Bowling Green, expand Morehead program, add Ashland hospital to it

Citing doctor shortages in rural areas, the University of Kentucky is starting a satellite medical school in Bowling Green and expanding its medical-education program in Morehead.

UK will partner with Western Kentucky University and The Medical Center at Bowling Green and continue its collaboration with Morehead State University and St. Claire Regional Medical Center, UK President Eli Capilouto announced Thursday. The Morehead program will expand to include King's Daughters Hospital in Ashland.

"The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a shortage of physicians, and especially primary care physicians, throughout the state, but particularly in rural areas," Capilouto said. "This is an acute health-care need and an economic one as well."

The university said in a news release, "The UK College of Medicine is at its capacity at the Lexington campus and although there is a deep applicant pool for medical students, the college can’t expand enrollment without the help of regional partners."

UK has 521 medical students, 139 in its most recent class. The satellite programs, which will focus on the early part of medical education, will increase enrollment by about 30 percent. For several years, UK and Morehead have had a program in which 32 students have completed their "third and fourth years of medical training with rural-centered clinical experiences primarily at St. Claire," the release noted. That will now expand to the Ashland hospital.

The new programs could start as early as 2018. details are still being worked out, the release said.

Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal notes, "A 2013 study by Deloitte Consulting found the state needed 3,790 more doctors, including 183 additional primary-care physicians, to meet demand even before the Affordable Care Act. Kentucky currently has 9,936 active physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC. That works out to 225.1 active physicians per 100,000 people in 2014, ranking the state 36th in the nation."

"These shortages reflect a national issue," Ungar notes. "AAMC expects the nation will face a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 doctors by 2025 – even as the U.S. population grows by 31 million and the number of Americans over 65 goes up 46 percent. Compounding matters, more than a quarter of active physicians nationally are 60 or older and likely to retire soon. Seeing these trends, the association in 2006 called for expanding the number of medical school graduates by 30 percent. A January report in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences said medical schools have so far increased enrollment by 23 percent."

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