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Both rural and urban America are facing a shortage of doctors. There are 26,000 new docs entering practice very year. However, there are nearly just as many retiring. In 2017, for instance, 24,000 physicians will turn 63, according to a report given as a recent meeting of the Health Resources and Services Administration. The population rises, still, and so most of the country will experience a declining number of doctors per person. Meanwhile, most health care reform proposals envision increasing the number of primary care doctors — all of which is why the HRSA held a conference on “The Health Care Workforce Crisis: A Summit on the Future of Primary Care in Rural and Urban America.”

Among the solutions talked about at the conference was a 15-year-old program at the Northwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center in Erie. The center approaches rural students as early as elementary school about becoming doctors, recognizing that “if you come from a rural are, you will practice in a rural area,” said a director at the center. Middle and high school students work with doctors or other medical professionals.(Photo above.) The kids conduct research programs. Over the last eight years, the program has produced 103 physicians.

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