The Norman Transcript

State/Region

June 23, 2013

Rural Okla. hospitals struggle to recruit doctors

OKLAHOMA CITY — Access to physicians in Oklahoma, especially in rural parts of the state, could become even more limited when the federal health care law kicks in next year and thousands of previously uninsured Oklahomans obtain coverage.

Shortages of primary care physicians across the state could lead to higher patient loads, delays in visits to the doctor and more reliance on other health professionals such as nurse practitioners and physicians assistants when the new health care law goes into effect on Jan. 1, officials said.

“All of a sudden there’s an increase in the number of patients that have insurance,” said Jim Bishop, deputy executive director of the Physician Manpower Training Commission, a state agency that administers programs designed to improve medical care in rural and underserved areas of the state.

“There’s going to be so many people flooding doctor’s offices,” Bishop said. “It’s not going to make physicians happy.”

In 2010, Oklahoma ranked 43rd in the nation in the number of primary care physicians practicing in the state with 2,817, or about 76 doctors per 100,000 residents, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Andy Fosmire, managing director of the Rural Health Association of Oklahoma, said the shortage of primary care providers is worse in rural parts of the state, where access to health care could become more difficult under the health care law.

“There’s a lot of fear that 2014 is going to hit and all of a sudden 30 million people are going to appear at a primary care physician’s doorstep,” Fosmire said. “The potential is there. They’ll have to fill that gap.”

The state already offers a variety of programs to provide financial incentives for physicians who practice in underserved areas of the state. They include a scholarship program that provides $60,000 over four years to primary care providers who practice in rural areas of the state and a medical loan repayment program which provides up to $160,000 over four years to help physicians in underserved areas repay their student loans.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Oklahoma Senate approves limits on abortion drug

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma in a bill written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision....

    April 16, 2014

  • March Oklahoma revenue misses mark by 9.1 percent

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s finance secretary says collections by the general revenue fund fell 9.1 percent below the official estimate in March....

    April 16, 2014

  • University of Tulsa researchers find new species

    TULSA — A salamander first discovered by a University of Tulsa doctoral student in 2011 is being hailed as a new species in an international journal for animal taxonomy....

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma House passes state trooper pay raise bill

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could get their first pay raise in seven years under a plan given final legislative approval Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether money will be available in the overall state budget to ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Barresi decries plan to eliminate Okla. tests

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi is raising concern about a bill before the Legislature that would eliminate state testing in social studies and geography....

    April 16, 2014

  • State-mandated minimum wage draws ire across state

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Organizers seeking a higher minimum wage in Oklahoma are upset with Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to sign a bill that prohibits cities in the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma’s 8-month streak without tornado falls

    TULSA — After Oklahoma’s eight-month streak without a tornado was snapped this weekend by a pair of suspected twisters, the state’s wild weather jag continued into Monday, with blowing snow from the Panhandle to Tulsa and freezing ...

    April 15, 2014

  • 4 now charged in college player’s death

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A fourth person was charged Monday in the death of an Australian baseball player who was fatally shot as he jogged in a southern Oklahoma neighborhood last summer....

    April 15, 2014

  • Fallin signs minimum wage increase ban

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Cities across Oklahoma are now prohibited from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin....

    April 15, 2014

  • Opponents carve anti-pipeline message

    NELIGH, Neb. — Opponents of a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast have stamped a massive message of resistance into a Nebraska field that is in the project’s path....

    April 14, 2014