There is a dramatic shortage of primary care physicians in rural Nebraska. The University of Nebraska Medical Center recently conducted a study and found the number of primary care physicians is 30-percent lower than what was previously reported by the American Medical Association. Dr. Jim Stimpson is the director of the Center for Health Policy at UNMC and says there are 11 rural counties that currently do not have a primary care physician.
Dr. Stimpson says their study did have one positive note and that is the ethnic diversity among primary care physicians increased seven percent in the past five years and the ration of women to men shifted over the past five years with an 11-percent higher share of the primary care physician workforce.
Dr. Stimpson says they hope policy changes will allow nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can fill that void in rural areas. There are also incentives for new doctors to establish their practices in rural areas by covering their student loans for medical school.