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Mississippi's doctor workforce ranked smallest in the country

It appears that, compared to other states, Mississippi doesn't have many doctors.

In state rankings of doctor workforce size, Mississippi ranks all the way at the bottom, showing the lowest number of doctors per capita. Why do you think the doctor workforce is so small in Mississippi?

Doctor workforce size can have many impacts on patients in a state. For one, a small doctor workforce can create challenges for patients when it comes to getting the care they need. When a state doesn't have a lot of doctors, it can make is so: it is more difficult for patients find the right doctor for them, patients have to travel farther out to get needed care and patients have to wait longer to get the care they need.

Doctor workforce size can also potentially have patient safety implications. A doctor shortage can make it so the doctors that are present in a state have particularly heavy workloads. High workloads can sometimes contribute to doctor burnouts. As we discussed in previous post, doctor burnouts can have negative impacts on patient safety.

Now, it appears there is some hope for the future when it comes to Mississippi's doctor workforce size. This is because medical/osteopathic school enrollment is up quite a bit in the state. Research indicates that Mississippi ranks second in the country when it comes increase size for such enrollment.

Do you think this will lead to big increases in the size of the doctor workforce in Mississippi in the future? If so, how big of an impact do you think such increases will have on patients in Mississippi?

Source: The Clarion-Ledger, "Study: Miss. least in doctors," Mollie Bryant, Jan. 1, 2016

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