Missouri faces shortage of doctors, nurses, dentists
By Catherine Wolf, KWMU
St. Louis, MO –
Missouri healthcare leaders say more than 85% of the state's counties don't have enough primary care doctors. They're discussing the shortages at a Missouri Foundation for Health conference in St. Louis this week.
Dr. James Kimmey is the foundation's president. He says there aren't enough primary care doctors because older physicians are retiring and medical students are going into surgical specialties.
"They have big debts to pay off. They're attracted to the hours that are in the specialties. They don't have good role models for primary care in medical schools, they're really very specialty oriented."
Kimmey says the state also faces a lack of nurses, mainly because there aren't enough teachers to instruct them.
"To be a nurse educator means going back and getting a PhD in nursing, which is another big chunk of expense and time, when you can make pretty good money right now in practice."
The Missouri Hospital Association reports nearly 8% of nursing jobs at Missouri hospitals are vacant. Kimmey says Missouri also faces a shortage of dentists.