A recent Vegas Inc article took an in-depth look at the doctor shortage issues that currently face Las Vegas. As many Vegas residents know, finding an opening for an available and well-regarded doctor can be difficult. Nevada remains among the lowest states in terms of the number of doctors per 100,000 residents.
In the U.S., Nevada ranks:
- 46th lowest in family practice doctors
- 46th lowest in pediatricians
- 51st lowest in orthopedic surgeons
- 48th lowest in ophthalmologists
- 50th lowest in psychiatric physicians
- 40th lowest in OB-GYNs
- 50th lowest in registered nurses
The article notes that:
Doctors and researchers blame the shortage on several factors, including Las Vegas’ once-booming population, which grew too fast for doctors to keep pace; low levels of government funding for medical education; low payment rates from insurers; the lack of a four-year, M.D.-granting medical school based in Las Vegas; and Las Vegas’ reputation as a gambling and party town with bad schools, which makes it hard to lure doctors here.
To compound the problem, Nevada has very few residency slots that open up training to graduates from medical school. While not required, those in residency often stay in their practicing state for a number of years after their program. Compared to the national average, only 10 medical residents and fellows are in Nevada following medical school, compared to 37 per 100,000 residents in other states.
While the news is dire, there is hope that the Vegas doctor shortage could begin to change.
UNLV’s new medical school may open opportunities for more students to move into the state. Along with a new MD-granting private program at Roseman University of Health Sciences, this creates a renewed focus on medicine for Nevada residents.
At the same time, Nevada (and Clark County specifically) is beginning to rebound again after the recession. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a 1.5% increase in population, with many individuals moving here looking for new job opportunities as well as retirement options. If the medical community can match this growth with new medical programs and increased residency spots, there is hope that the shortage can be righted.
Have you had challenges finding a doctor in Vegas?
Image by ADTeasdale via Flickr