Nevada Doctor Shortage: The state ranks 48 when it comes to number of physicians per capita

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada has one of the lowest rankings in the country regarding the number of doctors in the state. But now that the valley has three medical schools and a promising supply of physicians, the state is making progress. But there’s still one issue holding us back.

This spring, hundreds of medical students from across southern Nevada walked across their school’s graduation stage to become doctors.

The key now is getting them to do their graduate work in the state. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, states have, on average, 272 doctors per 100,000 residents. In Nevada, that number falls to just 198.

“I think when you look at the number of physicians per capita, we rank about 48th,” said Dr. Marc Kahn, the dean of Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. “Nevada has kind of been a victim of its own success because it’s become a more popular place to live. It’s grown, but the health care sector hasn’t grown proportionately.”

For years, Nevadans have complained how tough it is to find a doctor — see a specialist, and don’t forget endless hours in a waiting room.

“Every doctor counts because it’s very difficult to recruit physicians,” said Dr. Wolfgang Gilliar, the dean at Touro University.

Dr. Gilliar agrees the newly minted doctors are an essential first step, but the next one might be even more important.

Out of the 2021 class, roughly one-third will do their graduate work in Nevada through a residency or fellowship. That number is critical to climbing out of a decades-long doctor shortage.

“The numbers bear out over 75% of residents wherever they train [or] stay in the area,” Dr. Gilliar said.

“I already had like roots here, been part of the community since high school,” according to Dr. Horacio Guerra, who graduated from med school in 2021.

“Being from Nevada originally having the opportunity to come to Las Vegas was really unique,” said Dr. Eric McClintok, who graduated from med school in 2021.

Both Dr. Guerra and Dr. Mclintock graduated this month and have local residencies lined up. There’s just one problem: Not*all specialties are offered in Nevada.

“Urology, neurosurgery, dermatology, radiation oncology, medical oncology,” Dr. Kahn said.

Not having some specialties has forced some physicians to leave.

“If you have students who get their residencies in town, therefore [they] stay more, and we can really improve this doctor shortage,” said Dr. Gilliar.

The City of Las Vegas is expanding its medical district, and the construction of the fully accredited UNLV School of Medicine is well underway. But it’s a long road to solving the state’s doctor shortage.

“There are great doctors out here; there is good medicine being practiced; it’s just there’s only so many of them,” Dr. Mclintock said.

What are your options if you can’t get in to see a doctor or a specialist? More people are turning to concierge medicine. It gives you full access to your doctor via their cell phone. Sounds expensive, right?

It might not be a pricey as you think. Plus, most concierge doctors take insurance.

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