Shelley Berkley runs a medical school — and aspires to teach math.
The CEO and senior provost for Touro University’s Western Division, which includes an osteopathic medical school in Henderson, says basic arithmetic helps explain Nevada’s doctor shortage.
While Touro graduates 135 students a year, most will never practice in Nevada because there are too few residency slots. Most new doctors end up settling where they do their residencies because of the professional and personal connections they make.
Touro currently sends 30 graduates a year to residencies with the Valley Health System. “That means 105 of my graduates of future doctors who are having their education here are going to go away,” said Berkley.
“According to national statistics, 70 percent of them will not be coming back because they are going to end up practicing where they do their residency,” she said. “It’s simple math. You can have two more medical schools, 10 more medical schools, it’s not going to create a single doctor for this state until we have the residency programs to keep these future doctors here.”
The number of medical school graduates in Nevada will jump when the planned UNLV and Roseman University medical schools come online, which could add to the graduate-resident imbalance.
Berkley encouraged Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature to build on their work of last year, which saw $10 million added to the state budget for new residency programs, also know as graduate medical education.
“Much more needs to be done, and I suspect that we will be going in asking for another $10 million,” she said. “It doesn’t come to the medical schools, it goes to the hospitals that create these graduate medical education programs,” which receive ongoing federal funding through Medicare.
"This is a crisis in Nevada and we need to work together to retain our doctors," Berkley said. "We're educating a whole bunch of future doctors to go practice somewhere else."
The former six-term congresswoman said Washington will be focused on the election this year and additional assistance will unlikely be a high priority for the new Congress and president next year.
Shelley Berkley, former congresswoman and CEO and senior provost for Touro University’s Western Division.
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