Mississippi's doctor shortage puts the state dead last in the national rankings. It's an issue the University of Mississippi Medical Center is confronting, but as MPB's Desare Frazier reports, there's no quick fix.
University of Mississippi Medical Center has just finished it's spring commencement exercises. Of the 126 graduates of the school of medicine, nearly half will do their residency at UMMC. Twenty-seven year old Carrie Wynn is one of them.
"We've have great programs here. We have great doctors. Everyone has had such a good experience coming through medical school that I think it really makes them want to stay," said Wynn.
James Edwards isn't staying in Mississippi. He's going to Washington, DC to complete his training in family medicine.
"I think that the training opportunities offered there would be great and possibly for me to come back to Mississippi to share," said Edwards."
Edwards says there aren't enough residency slots at UMMC, so some have to leave. Even though the medical school ranks in the top ten nationwide for retaining graduates, those who leave often receive job offers and some don't return. Dr. LouAnn Woodward, dean of the school of medicine, says the state ranks 50th for number of doctors per person and it will take time to improve that outlook--one answer she says, increase class size.
"We graduated 126 students today. Next year we'll be in the mid-130's and we're at a point where we're taking 145 students per year," said Woodward.
When the new school of medicine facility opens next year, they'll eventually admit 165 students. Dr. LouAnne Woodward says recruiting doctors can be difficult because of the stigmas associated with Mississippi. She adds they offer some scholarships, but more are needed.