THE MEDICAL MISSION
Bringing More Doctors to Idaho
Fall 2010 Issue | By Andrew Taylor
There will be more family doctors in Idaho due to a $960,000 grant awarded this fall to the Idaho State University Family Medicine Residency program.
The ISU program received the five-year grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, which was part of the new national health care legislation passed earlier this year.
"This grant is designed to increase the number of primary care physicians in the state and will allow us to increase the total number of medical residents in our program from 18 to 21 over the next five years," said William Woodhouse, associate director of the ISU Family Medicine Residency. "By the end of the grant it will pay for the training of a total of five additional residents."
Woodhouse noted that Idaho residences are ranked eighth in the nation for keeping residency graduates in the state and each of those graduates generate $800,000 annually in economic activity in the community they choose to set up a medical practice. A medical residency program is a period of formal graduate medical education that consists of on-the-job training of medical school graduates. Completion of a residency program is required for board certification in a medical or surgical specialty.
Idaho ranks 47th in the nation for its ratio of primary care physicians to the population, according to Woodhouse. Health experts predict that by the year 2025 an additional 2,000 doctors will be needed in Idaho to maintain its current doctor/patient ratios because of an expanded population and a greater number of elderly patients requiring more health care.
"This grant helped us jump start the expansion of our Family Residency program at Idaho State University," Woodhouse said. "We will continue to offer the seven resident positions per year after the grant funds expire. In order to qualify for this funding we had to show that ISU and the state of Idaho were committed to continuing to fund all seven slots."
The grant proposal was very much a collaborative effort. The proposal received support from Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, other leaders in state government and the ISU administration. The ISU Family Medicine Residency worked with the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho in Boise to muster this support and both Residencies were successful in obtaining funding. Dave Harris, in ISU's Office of Sponsored Programs, was instrumental in assembling and submitting the proposal.
"This grant has helped us create new residency positions in a time of great economic distress," Woodhouse said. "Without this grant we would have been unable to expand the program at this time, and Idaho needs all the primary care providers it can get."