Rural hospital doctor shortage could get worse

Diana Crawford
NewsChannel 10

Borger, Texas - The shortage of doctors in rural communities could become worse if lawmakers in Austin choose to cut a program designed to bring them to these areas.

The physician loan repayment program is in jeopardy and so could be the future of some small-town hospitals. The program pays for a portion of a doctor's student loans, if they practice for several years in a medically under served area.

It brings doctors to hospitals like Golden Plains in Borger, where there is already a shortage, because it's tough to recruit them. Hospital CEO Dennis Jack says, "A rural environment is a difficult environment to practice in for doctors. They go to medical school where they are surrounded by peers. They can consult with anybody, at anytime, on any specialty, because they are all there. Then they come out here and all of a sudden, they have to be everything to everyone. That's a tough step."

Golden Plains Community Hospital is scheduled to receive three new, much-needed doctors because of the program. However, the deal could fall through, if it is cut. Another concern, is that the hospital will soon expand and will need a bigger staff.