Shortage of Licensed Physicians in Montana
While health care insurance seems to dominate national conversations right now, there is a related issue of equal concern at hand: a national shortage of physicians. What are the factors contributing to the shortage and can Montana keep pace with its growing demand for those holding a physicians license in Arkansas?
A shortage of physicians in Montana is looming on the horizon.This means for the foreseeable future, the ability to see a doctor when you’re sick will become even more difficult in the coming years unless a permanent solution arises.
Why is There a Demand Medical Professionals that hold a Physician License in Montana?
When it comes to the medical field, the boomer generation is retiring and the millennial generation has taken over. It’s been difficult to convince a young doctor to move to a region with few other young professionals or opportunities. These physicians are not interested in moving to rural areas because they would rather work in major cities, so they can grow their careers while surrounded by a population of peers. Montana is ailing from a chronic shortage of doctors and mental health providers. The lack of physicians means patients must often drive hundreds of miles for medical care. Another reason for the shortage of doctors? There are no medical schools at their public universities. “According to Dr. Doug Nelson, chief medical officer at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, the state has about 2.2 physicians per 1,000 residents – a number that falls below the national average of 2.8 physicians per 1,000.” (2)
“The statistics are fairly frightening. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the United States could see a deficit of up to 120,000 doctors by 2030, with rural states such as Montana likely to be hardest hit. An aging population is a key factor playing into the physician shortage.”
How Can We Bring More Licensed Physicians to Montana?
Montana property taxes are exceptionally low, the cost of living is quite affordable, wide open spaces, plenty of job opportunities in other fields, low density population and friendly communities. Another huge advantage to living in Montana is no sales tax: in fact, it is one of just four states in the country without sales tax. “The living cost in Montana is 6.29% lower than the rest of the country. This is because many energy resources like coal, oil, gas and water are readily available in the state. Montana also benefits from the lowest taxation levels. Here property taxes are very low, and this makes owning vehicles and houses very affordable.” (3) It’s also the perfect place for those that like to have some breathing room with lots of quiet. Rural Montana life can work to the state’s benefit because some physicians love the outdoor lifestyle.
What’s being done to recruit and keep more doctors in rural areas? Many rural hospitals are looking ahead to solve this issue through technologies like telemedicine, which can enable city-based physicians to treat more patients, connect specialists to rural hospitals, and give patients access to a wider pool of physicians. There are federal programs that offer grants and stipends to help pay off large loans to students willing to work to communities that are underserved. “A new state law now requires WWAMI graduates to return to Montana after residency to work for three years or pay the state back $165,000.” (4)
How Can You Apply for a Montana Medical License?
Montana is having a hard time finding qualified doctors to fill open positions within the state. If you are interested in helping to with the physician shortage in Montana by relocating to practice medicine there, you will need to fill out the paperwork necessary to obtain your Montana medical license. So, where do you begin? You need to fill out all of the required paperwork, which can be tedious and daunting, not to mention lengthy. There are additional resources available that can make the application process simpler for you to obtain a healthcare license. Once you are licensed to practice medicine in Montana, you will be doing a service for those in need of quality healthcare. Procuring your Montana physician license will help the state overcome some of its healthcare challenges.