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'To take care of my communities;' UMKC School of Medicine students want to reverse physician shortage

UMKC School of Medicine Student
Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-04 08:38:31-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Medical schools in Kansas City are working to reverse the staggering physician shortage.

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According to the Rural Health Information Hub, all but one county in Missouri short of healthcare professionals. All but three counties in Kansas are short on doctors and nurses.

"When they cannot get other doctors out there, like pediatricians or internal medicine or Ob/Gyn’s, they are critical to helping those smaller communities stay alive and stay healthy,” Katie Long, a University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Medicine student said.

Part of her education is setting her up to fill gaps across Missouri and Kansas.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), 50% of Kansas and 80% of Missouri are in a primary care physician shortage.

"I think part of why we're in this shortage of physicians right now is kind of a twofold issue,” Long said. “One, there's been a general trend in medicine and medical education moving away from primary care."

The shortage in primary care doctors is inspiring Long's medical path.

"That's part of why I choose family medicine because it allows me to give back to the entire community. I can see babies, I can see pregnant women, I can see children, I can see adults, I can see grandparents,” she said.

The need for primary care physicians, especially in rural communities, is only growing.

It's why the UMKC School of Medicine broke ground on a new building in St. Joseph back in August.

"The cost of medical education is not cheap,” Long said.

Long said taking out student loans, extra years of school, and burnout are always looming.

"I've been taught here, I've been raised here, my love of medicine has been nurtured here, and I want to be able to give back to my community and take care of my community,” she said.

But her passion to meet the need and reverse these shortages will prevail.

"That would mean the work that I'm doing, that my medical school is doing, medical community doing, other doctors like myself, nurse practitioners, physician assistants are all doing, is actually making progress. And we're actually making change,” she said.