KIVI - Efforts across the state to bring more physicians to Idaho

TREASURE VALLEY — The state is struggling to keep up with the community’s medical needs and the rest of the country, ranking 49th in the number of physicians and 46th in the number of primary care physicians.

“The entire state of Idaho is struggling with a physician shortage issue,” said interim dean of Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Kevin Wilson, “rural areas are hit hardest, there are many many small towns with community hospitals or critical access hospitals that have one physician or 2 physicians and are struggling to keep any and all medical staff,”

Several entities around the state are trying to combat the issue, one being Primary Health Medical Group.

“We are now up to about 450,000 patient visits per year,” said Primary Health Medical Group CEO David Peterman.

They’re opening three new clinics by 2021- two in Boise, one in Kuna.

“The reason we’re locating out there is because there isn’t a lot of healthcare in that location, but also that is an area in which many new homes are going up,” said Peterman.

The new clinics bring more physicians and jobs to the treasure valley, totaling 60 new jobs. Another way to get more physicians to the state is by having more students go to medical school in the state.

“We give preference to Idaho students to come to ICOM, if you’re an Idaho student and have a GPA over 3.2 and an MCAT over 500 you’re guaranteed an interview,” said Wilson.

The clinics are addressing needs in the treasure valley, but ICOM students are helping alleviate the stress in rural Idaho through telehealth, which allows patients to speak with medical professionals through their computer. Students learn it in their third and fourth-year rotations, which helps get services to the rural parts of Idaho.

“It is a big thing not just in Idaho but across the country,” said Peterman.