Rural Texas Ramps Up For Obamacare By Recruiting Young Doctors

Nov 5, 2013

In rural Texas, finding a family practice doctor is no easy feat. There are dozens of counties without doctors, and the need for health care is only going to increase as more people buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

So how do we convince recent medical school graduates to strap on their boots and take root in rural clinics?

Give them a taste. Turns out, they often end up sticking around.

KERA took a look at how rural Texas is ramping up for Obamacare:

In his green scrubs and sneakers, Will Griffin looks like a full-fledged doctor, but he’s actually a third year medical student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. While most medical students head to a city like Dallas for experience, Griffin chose Eastland, a town of four thousand people, and one very famous horny toad named Old Rip.

“My wife and I both grew up in very small towns,” he says. “And that’s what we wanted to go back to.” Plus, he says, family practice in a small town gives you the opportunity for a lifetime relationship with your patients.

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine offers a select group of students the opportunity to try on the lifestyle of a rural physician. During their third year, they work and live in a rural Texas community under the supervision of a local physician.

While life in rural Texas might sound romantic, the stats on rural health care are anything but. The 3  million Texans who live in rural areas are more likely to be uninsured, older, poorer and have higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. Add to that a serious shortage of physicians, and you’ve got a system of clinics desperate for relief.

Read more at KERA’s Breakthroughs blog.