Letters to the Editor

Doctors’ shortage in rural America

New, for-profit medical schools aren’t the only institutions supplying the doctors rural America needs (New for-profit medical schools springing up across U.S., June 22).

Historically, graduates of international medical schools have been far more likely to practice in non-urban areas with primary-care shortages than their U.S.-trained counterparts.

Twenty percent of the U.S. population lives in rural settings; only 10 percent of doctors practice there.

Rural communities have 20 percent fewer doctors per person than their urban counterparts.

International medical graduates are addressing that shortage. Two-thirds practice in non-urban areas with government-designated shortages of primary-care physicians.

International medical grads are also more likely to go into primary care. Three-quarters of graduates from the school I lead, St. George’s University, in Grenada, go into primary care. By contrast, less than one-third of U.S. med students specialize in primary care.

Dr. G. Richard Olds, president, St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies

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