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A New Cure for the Physician Shortage

December 19, 2018

In a move to address the physician shortfall and expand medical school opportunities for its students, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State) has launched a partnership with Baptist Memorial Health Care, which operates 22 hospitals and multiple clinics and specialty facilities in the Mississippi Delta region.

Arkansas ranks 46th on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ list of physicians per capita. Now, future physicians interested in helping fill this shortage by practicing in the Mid-South after medical school have a unique opportunity to develop a relationship with one of the region’s largest hospital systems.

In December, NYITCOM at A-State and Baptist announced an agreement to provide up to 25 positions dedicated to NYITCOM students who want to train at Baptist Memorial Health Care facilities while in medical school. In years to come, the program can increase the number of positions to 50 in the Baptist-NYITCOM cohort.

Beginning in August 2019, students selected for the program will have designated opportunities, such as research and physician shadowing, through the Baptist Memorial Health Care system during their first and second year. After that time, students will complete their third- and fourth-year clerkships at one of Baptist’s 22 hospitals. “When we welcomed our first class in August 2016, NYITCOM at A-State began its mission to improve access to health care for the medically underserved and rural populations,” said Jerry Balentine, D.O., dean of NYITCOM and vice president for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs. “With this partnership, we are proud to continue that mission and expand opportunities for our students as they prepare to practice in the underserved areas of the Mississippi Delta region.”

“This partnership aligns perfectly with our goal to train future physicians who are more likely to stay and practice in the Mid-South area,” said Shane Speights, D.O., dean of NYITCOM at A-State. “The opportunity to study within the Mid-South’s largest health care organization with a variety of locations in both rural and urban areas will be extremely valuable for our future doctors.” After completing their medical education, students will be encouraged to apply to one of Baptist Memorial Health Care’s affiliated residency programs.

“There is a significant shortage of physicians, particularly primary care, in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. This shortage poses a grave health risk, particularly to people in underserved rural and urban communities,” said Jason Little, president and CEO of Baptist Memorial Health Care. “We believe this Baptist-NYITCOM program will help alleviate this shortage by giving more of our best and brightest students the opportunity to study and practice medicine in their home communities.”

Headquartered in Memphis, Baptist Memorial operates hospitals, clinics and specialty facilities in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, many of which are located in rural areas. Baptist currently hosts residents and fellows in family medicine, internal medicine, radiology, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, pathology, and pulmonary medicine. 


By Casey Pearce