Within her presentation, Ms. Welch cited several reasons why physicians might be drawn to set up practice in rural areas and how a small Texas community might use this information to its benefit. Chief amongst these were the 2015 statistic that rural areas offer primary care physicians a higher patient-to-doctor ratio (about 1200:1) than metropolitan areas (528:1). In these locales, primary care doctors would be in a position to provide services and procedures that would otherwise require patients to travel an hour or more to access. Of all 50 states, Texas boasts the highest number of rural dwellers — fully one-fifth of its population, in 172 of its 254 counties — yet it currently ranks 46th in number of rural physicians. Many Texas counties are completely without a general surgeon, an ob-gyn, or a psychiatrist — in the last instance, the underserved is estimated to be 3 million people, or the size of the entire population of Arkansas.Ms. Welch recommended that communities who recognize themselves as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) should seek to welcome new medical school graduates, as most doctors tend to stay in the general area where they complete their residency.
Following the presentation, Ms. Welch held a question-and-answer session before the meeting was officially adjourned, and she then took time to visit with individual attendees.
After June 7th, the CDC’s Community Leaders’ Meetings will be on summer break and will resume Friday, September 6th, 2019.