Doctor Shortage Expected to Grow in S. Nevada - 8 News NOW

Doctor Shortage Expected to Grow in S. Nevada

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LAS VEGAS -- At 89-years-old, Trudy Stevens is a patient at Touro University Nevada, a private college.

"It seems like when you're my age, you end up seeing doctors pretty often," Stevens said.

Stevens, who lives in an assisted care facility, visited Touro for a check-up by Dr. Lisa Rosenberg.

"I had a friend where I moved that said she was a wonderful doctor, and that you never really had to wait very long," she said.

Waiting is a common side effect when patients fall ill in Nevada because the state is in desperate need of doctors.

Dr. Mitchell Forman, dean and professor at Touro's College of Osteopathic Medicine, said the doctor shortage is serious.

"We're going to have people trying to get in to see physicians as they're trying to do now, and in my specialty, waiting maybe three or four months to see someone," he said. "That's not good health care."

Dr. Howard Baron, immediate past president of the Clark County Medical Society, said the shortage was a "huge issue" even before the Las Vegas valley's population boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

"I think there's the potential for care to be delayed, sometimes at a physical cost to the patient," he said.

According to the Nevada State Medical Association, the state has the smallest doctor residency programs in the western United States and the fewest number of medical residents in the country.

In June, 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news and opinion company, found Nevada has 178.1 doctors per 100,000 people, compared to a nationwide average of 219.5 doctors.

Nevada is working to train more doctors.

"I think the big focus has to be on increasing the amount of graduate medical education we have in southern Nevada," Baron said.

The other medical school in the state is based at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"If you can train your graduates here, you can retain them here in the state," Forman said.

With an aging baby boomer population, millions of people more on track to be insured by the Affordable Care Act, and retiring physicians, getting a doctor's appointment may mean a longer wait.

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