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Nevada lags behind in number and variety of doctors

Nevada needs more than 2,800 new doctors if it wants to catch up with the national rate of physicians per capita. The state ranks 47th in the country for its physician-to-population ratio according to a new study from the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Across the country, on average, there are 327 doctors for every 100,000 people. In Nevada, that number is just shy of 225.

John Packham, the study’s lead author, says the state is keeping the doctors it trains, but that hasn’t been enough to match population growth.

“The problem is our overall number of residency positions or slots as they’re called are pretty small.”

Packham, who is with the School of Medicine, says Nevada lags behind across most medical specialties. The American Medical Association tracks 39 of those specialties, like psychiatry or neurology, and Nevada is below the national average in all but one of those categories.

“I think the ones that concern me the most would be the primary care specialties, the family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics where we’ve made gains in increasing the overall supply of physicians, but we’re still short of both regional and national averages.”

Packham says partnering with hospitals will be central to easing the doctor shortage in upcoming years as the economy improves and the population grows. Last month, the Board of Regents approved a collaboration between the School of Medicine and Renown Regional Medical Center to develop residency programs in Northern Nevada.