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State Health Care Providers Hoping To Offer Incentives To New Doctors

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Health care providers want to ask lawmakers to introduce an incentive program for to keep new doctors in the state. Health care providers want to ask lawmakers to introduce an incentive program for to keep new doctors in the state.
The incentives would help doctors pay off their medical school loans. The incentives would help doctors pay off their medical school loans.

Jennifer Pierce, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Recent studies rank Oklahoma last in the nation in physician-to-patient ratio, but Oklahoma health care providers are coming up with solutions to fix the problem.

Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians, CEO, Sam Blackstock said he plans to ask lawmakers to introduce an incentive program for new doctors. Blackstock said the idea comes from Texas, which recently passed a plan to recruit doctors to serve in rural communities and assist in paying off their medical school loans.

"We want to be competitive with our surrounding states so we can keep Oklahoma trained doctors in Oklahoma," Blackstock said.

Summer Kirby is in her third year of residency at the OU Family Medicine Center. Kirby said a lot of medical students are turning to specialty practices rather than primary care.

Kirby said she plans to pursue a general practice in her hometown of Ardmore. She is all for a program that would help her payback the $160,000 in loans she accrued while in medical school.

"If we can get an incentive to get physicians into a rural area you will find that more will stay," Kirby said.

The proposed funding source for the incentive program would come from closing a tax loophole on smokeless tobacco.

Physician groups are meeting with business leaders around the state to gain support for the incentive.

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