AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Panhandle region is known for its medical schools and medical centers.
Which is why to most it comes as a surprise that a recent study from the Texas Department of State Health Services states physicians need to increase by at least 26.2 percent to meet demand.
The shortage is expected to only increase in the next decade. Health care professionals are saying this shortage can be due to the rural location of the panhandle.
“There’s a lot of diversity in our area, so there’s a nice draw for physicians, but it’s also a great distance from larger cities, the metroplex, the Austin area, so it’s a long-distance from those larger cities,” said Casie Stoughton, director of Public Health of Amarillo.
Studies are saying that this shortage is predicted not to end anytime soon.
“DHS (Department of Health Services) has put out a study in 2018, that predicted physicians shortages from 2017 to 2030 and one of the things that are predicted is that gap we see in physicians shortages will grow over time,” said Stoughton.
Where the panhandle is doing an excellent job is the education of physicians, but the need for physicians is not keeping up with the population growth and vast land that needs to be covered in the panhandle region.
“If you do an inventory of all the physicians and health care providers in west Texas and look at where they trained, a substantial amount of those people trained in west Texas. We know that we’ve been successful in recruiting people to stay and practice here. It’s just not enough to keep up with the overall population growth. It’s difficult to get people to disseminate in the wide area of west Texas,” said Rodney Young professor and regional chair of Texas Tech.
As a result, some local schools are pushing students to practice family medicine. This way, they can treat all ages.
“We decided to try to develop a program that would attract more people to chose family medicine as a discipline. Family physicians are the physicians are best equipped to practice in rural areas because they learn to treat patients of all ages,” said Young.
Whereas health care physicians are projected to still be in demand for the next decade, pediatric doctors are the only group expected to become more available in Texas eventually.only group expected to eventually become more available in Texas.