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January 3, 2012

Rural Medical School Keeps Doctors Local

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From Voice of America; Written by David Weinberg.

For the first time in modern history, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. That includes doctors, leaving many small communities with no primary care physician. However, a new program at Kansas University may change that.

“We need more doctors. A quarter of all of our physicians in Kansas are 60 years or older. So we need to be replacing physicians too,” says Dr. William Cathcart-Rake, who directs a new program at Kansas University which is designed to provide those physicians.

The idea is to get medical school students to remain and practice in rural Kansas by educating them in the state’s smaller communities.

According to Cathcart-Rake, students from rural areas typically go off to medical schools in Wichita and Kansas City.

“They say they have every intention of coming back to rural Kansas but they meet a soul mate, they get married. Their soul mate happens to be from a big city and we never see them again. They get captured in the big city," he says. "Hopefully, if we train them in smaller communities, they can meet their prospective spouses here, they can network here and they have those connections which can be lifelong.”

The program is based in the small town of Salina - population 50,000 - which is about a three-hour drive from Kansas City, past corn and soybean fields and the occasional cattle ranch. The medical school in downtown Salina is housed in a three-story brick building which was refurbished specifically for the program.

The first thing you notice is that the professor is not in the room. Instead, he appears on a flat-screen monitor at the front of the classroom.

Read the rest of the article here.

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