What’s Being Done To Address Nevada’s Physician Shortage?

There is a primary care shortage across the country – including here in Nevada.

The state’s rank among U.S. states is currently 45th for active physicians per 100,000, according to the American Medical Association. Currently, there are 7,388 physicians (MDs and DOs) with an active license to practice in Nevada. We need an additional 1,500 primary care physicians to meet the national average.

“Many patients have to leave the state to get specialty and sub-specialty care, I worry about the people who can’t afford to do that and really this has reached almost a crisis point,” said Dr. Marc J. Kahn, the dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.

The state has three medical schools.

Dr. Kahn says cites several reasons behind the shortage.

“One is to grow our own, need to have more medical students, but more importantly we need to have more residency positions, second thing is we need to make it easier for fully credentialed physicians to come into the state,” he said.

In order to become a licensed doctor you have to complete a residency or post-graduate training which is typically between 3-5 years after medical school. Statistically, where you do your residency is where you’ll end up practicing.

“I think it is important for me to stay, for my own health, try to get a doctor’s appointment, how long it took, I could see how the need is so large here, and I really want to pioneer that and get more help, doctors here,” said Megan Sherman, a first year student at UNLV”s medical school.

But some students will have to leave the state because of their specialty.

“Residency positions in large part funded by the federal government through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Nevada has about 404 funded positions compared to California that is over 9,000,” Dr. Kahn said.

There are also caps on Medicare funding imposed in 1997, but in 2021 Congress approved an additional 1,000 funded slots over five years starting in 2023, however many of those positions will go to large metropolitan areas where the cost of living is high.

UNLV is working with the Governor Lombardo to fund more residency positions, and is also looking to hire 80 new positions at its medical school to help expand class sizes in the near future.

The U.S. will face a physician shortage of up to 86,000 physicians by 2036, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.


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