Gov. Phil Bryant signed Tuesday legislation that aims to attract more physicians to Mississippi.
House Bill 317 establishes the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and will increase the number of medical residency programs offered throughout the state.
According to studies conducted by UMMC, 50 percent of its graduates who leave Mississippi for residency never return to the state to practice; however, 75 to 80 percent of those who stay at UMMC for their residency go on to practice in Mississippi.
"Tuesday I signed legislation that furthers my health care initiatives," Gov. Bryant said. "In my inaugural address, I explained the need for Mississippi to add 1,000 physicians to its workforce by the year 2025. Expanding our state's medical residency programs will directly increase the number of physicians who remain in Mississippi to practice. We know that new doctors generate about $2 million in economic impact in their communities, and more doctors means better health care for our citizens. Rep. Sam Mims should be commended for his work on this important legislation."
As one of the most medically underserved states in the country, Mississippi has the lowest per-capita primary care physician supply in the nation. The state has 8.3 doctors per 10,000 residents, compared to the national average of 12.8 physicians per 10,000 residents.
Mississippi State Medical Association president Dr. Thomas E. Joiner agrees that the new law will have a positive impact on Mississippi's ability to retain physicians.
"Physicians appreciate the legislative support we received for this concept from Gov. Bryant," Joiner said. "It is no secret that there is critical need for additional doctors in the state, and statistics show that most physicians permanently locate where they are trained. This office and the additional residency opportunities for medical doctors and osteopathic doctors will be instrumental in answering the health care needs of our citizens. We are proud to have a part in its establishment."
The Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce will oversee physician workforce development needs by:
· Supporting the creation of primary care residency programs in the state, including the awarding the state financial support for creation of these programs;
· Encouraging the development of an adequate and geographically distributed physician workforce in all specialties with an evolving strategic plan;
· Assessing the current numbers, ages, types of practice, hospital affiliations, and geographic distribution of physicians in each medical society in Mississippi;
· Assessing the current and future physician workforce needs of the state of Mississippi;
· Providing an annual report to the governor, the Legislature, the State Board of Health and the board of trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning on the current status of the physician workforce and training programs in Mississippi.
Mississippi must add 1,330 primary care physicians to its workforce to raise its per-capita doctor count to the national average. Bryant says increasing medical residency programs and utilizing economic incentive tools like those in his Health Care Industry Zone Act (House Bill 1537) will bring more physicians and better health care to Mississippi.
"The Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians is pleased to see Gov. Bryant sign a bill that will help us reach our strategic goal of creating more community-based family medicine residencies in our state through the establishment of the Office of Physician Workforce," Dr. William B. Jones, president of Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians said. "We want to thank Rep. Sam Mims for championing this bill on behalf of all physicians. This legislation will change the face of medicine in Mississippi and is a major step toward accomplishing Gov. Bryant's goal of adding 1,000 doctors to Mississippi's physician workforce by 2025."