As future health care professionals, we are concerned about the disparity of care available between rural and urban areas. Increasingly, health care providers and resources are becoming concentrated in the most populous areas of Oregon, leaving rural areas with an alarming shortage.
Medical students have one summer off during their training. For many this is a time to explore projects not covered in the standard curriculum, but which are still important. The Oregon Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) is a group which is actively working to address the shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas. The three of us propose to spend our summer biking through much of the far-flung reaches of this fine state, sharing the message of the OAFP and holding an open forum with residents, business leaders, and other health care professionals in rural areas to discuss potential solutions to this problem, and help guide future policy decisions.
In short, here is the message we would like to present:
- That Oregon’s rural communities don’t have enough primary care doctors, which jeopardizes our health as well as our economic stability.
- That the OAFP hopes to encourage more graduating medical students to practice in rural areas by supporting bills at the state level to increase funding for loan repayment and forgiveness.
- And that by providing more support to rural medical practices, we can help rural areas hold on to the doctors they have.
Additionally, we want to emphasize that bringing additional primary care physicians into a community boosts the local economy, brings down the cost of health care for everyone, and most importantly makes the community healthier overall.