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Governor seeks boost for rural health care

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Gov. Susana Martinez said Tuesday that she’s proposing to add nearly $2.4 million to next year’s budget to afford new family medicine resident positions and new training slots for nurse practitioners at the University of New Mexico.

The proposed funding to expand training positions for New Mexico health care providers would be part of the state’s ongoing efforts to grow the ranks of doctors and nurses, particularly in rural areas.

“It is no secret that families and communities in rural New Mexico face a shortage of health care practitioners, from nursing professionals to family practice physicians and specialists,” Martinez said in a statement.

“By expanding the number of nurse practitioners being trained in New Mexico … we can significantly improve the quality of care that can be provided in rural settings throughout our state,” Martinez said. “And by recruiting more family practice physicians … we can better position ourselves to provide patients with the right care, at the right time and place.”

The proposed funding will go to the Legislature for consideration during the session starting in January.

The proposed expansion for health care professional training would include about $1.6 million for 24 additional slots for nurse practitioners and $750,000 for seven additional family practice physician residencies.

Three of the physicians accepting one of the new residency program slots would be expected to commit at least two years of the three-year program to working in a rural community.

In addition to the new training programs, Martinez has proposed adding another $600,000 to expand the availability of equipment and infrastructure needed to access telemedicine programs in rural areas of the state. The technology connects doctors in remote communities to medical specialists based in the state’s more urban areas.

UNM Health Sciences Center Chancellor Paul Roth said the university is grateful for the efforts “to expand our cutting-edge telehealth programs and increase the number of primary care residencies, nurses and nurse practitioners in the training pipeline.”

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