Nightly News | May 25, 2013
>>> there just aren't enough doctors in our country. the shortage has hit rural america hard and there may be some solutions. dr. nancy schneiderman for us tonight.
>> hey, sir. how are you?
>> dr. melana jumps from one appointment to the next. her two doctor practice in littlefield, texas, cares for 15,000 patients. some travel 40 minutes to see her.
>> perfect. i just can't physically take care of the amount of people that are here. we turn people away every single day.
>> she is one physician among thousands nationwide who work in areas with too few health professionals to meet the need.
>> right now, we're looking at a shortage of approximately 15 to 20,000 physicians across the country. over the next decade, we're looking at that growing to over 100,000 physicians.
>> to curb the shortage, medical schools have boosted their enrollment by more than 18% since 2002 . some schools like the school of medicine at texas tech university health sciences center are offering accelerated programs and financial incentives.
>> when they offered an accelerated track where i could get out and be doing what i love a year sooner, for me, it was kind of a no brainer.
>> but even if students like kee keely graduate faster, they still need to go through a residency program for more training.
>> the part to have program that is not working right now is the bottleneck we've created between graduates and the available number of physicians.
>> it started in 1997 when congress cut off additional funding to train young doctors. they had introduced the bipart son turning tomorrow's doctors today act to reverse that freeze.
>> the bill would create an additional 15,000 federally funded residencies over the next five years. it's believed this has the potential to alleviate one-third of the physician shortage in the united states . while that will help, experts say having more doctors won't necessarily get them to where they're needed most.
>> physicians cluster more into the urban centers and leave the rural areas and some other areas underserved in the process.
>> innovative medical programs that could offer some relief to physicians and hopefully better care for patients around the country.