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Education
Since at least 2007, Idaho has ranked near the bottom when it comes to the number of doctors working in the state.The latest available data from the Association of American Medical Colleges ranks Idaho 49th among states.The Gem State had 184 doctors for every 100,000 people in 2010.There are many factors that contribute to Idaho’s physician shortage; there is limited access to medical education in Idaho, salaries tend to be lower, and it’s tougher to recruit in rural areas.In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated 39 of Idaho’s 44 counties as Health Professional Shortage Areas.In an effort to encourage more doctors to practice in Idaho, the state subsidizes the cost of medical school for 28 students in Washington and Utah per year. It also has two incentive programs; the Rural Healthcare Access Program and the Rural Physician Incentive Program.The Rural Healthcare Access Program is a way for Idaho communities to recruit doctors by offering signing bonuses or student loan repayments, as well as developing tele-health projects and improving access to care.The Rural Physician Incentive Program is a loan repayment program for doctors who chose to practice in a rural part of the state. It’s open to doctors from all schools, though preference is given to WWAMI and University of Utah graduates. Doctors are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 of loan repayment.

University Of Idaho Asks Lawmakers For More WWAMI Seats

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis told state budget writers this morning that the 20 seats funded by the state in WWAMI, the cooperative medical education program with the University of Washington, are no longer enough to meet the state’s medical needs. He said Idaho needs more doctors.

“We have the lowest number of physicians, per capita, of any state in the nation,” Nellis said.

He urged lawmakers to include five new seats in the program in the upcoming state budget. Governor Butch Otter asked for five new seats as part of his budget proposal. The Idaho State Board of Education also supports the proposal.