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Nevada's Doctor Count Is Low, But Showing Positive Vital Signs

Associated Press

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs legislation in 2015 creating the UNLV medical school, something the author of a new report says is part of the answer to addressing the state's doctor shortage.

Nevada added 2,000 doctors over the last decade, according to a new study from the University of Nevada, Reno. However, the state population grew by 200,000 over the same time.

The result, says the report’s author, is a modest improvement statewide in the availability of doctors.

“What we always caution though is that our per capita numbers, particularly in Southern Nevada, have just barely inched up. I call it the treading water effect,” said medical school Associate Dean John Packham, who wrote the report.

The study puts Nevada 47th in the nation in terms of the percentage of doctors in the population.

“I think the issue is much more severe in Southern Nevada, where you have seen more population growth than you have up north," Packham said.

He said initiatives such as the creation of the medical school at UNLV and improvements in residency and fellowship programs show the state is working to address the issue.

Packham said further investment in in-state graduate medical education could keep more doctors in the state after they leave medical school.

“The fact of the matter is you leave, buy a house, you fall in love outside the state —- not such a good probability you’re coming back,” he said.

John Packham, associate dean, Office of Statewide Initiatives at UNR's Medical School

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.