A new law in Missouri will allow graduates of medical schools to bypass residency programs and work as assistant physicians in rural areas, according to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal.
The law aims to fill a shortage of doctors in rural parts of the state. Nationwide, rural areas tend to lack access to health clinics, and research shows that rural children are more likely than their urban peers to suffer from a range of ailments, such as obesity, asthma, or diabetes. Most medical school graduates attend a residency program for several years post-graduation, where they are supervised by more experienced doctors. Missouri’s law will allow graduates who have passed the first two sections of a three-part national licensing exam to work under supervision of a physician for 30 days before seeing patients on their own.
Research shows that academic performance can be negatively impacted by health issues, such as obesity or chronic illness. A recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which looked at the well-being of children across the country, ranked Missouri 30th out of 50 states in health, and 22nd in education.
Organizations in several rural states have launched programs that aim to bring professionals like lawyers and doctors to rural areas. A new program at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law will provide career counseling and networking support to graduates who are interested in practicing in rural areas. In 2013, Nebraska’s state bar association created an initiative that encourages law students to take jobs in rural areas.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.