Every person in the United States should have access to affordable, high-quality, cutting-edge health care, regardless of where they live. Sadly, this is not currently the case for many Americans and New Mexicans.
We are short on doctors, long on waitlists to see one. We can’t pay salaries competitive with major metro areas, don’t have the patient volume to attract certain specialties, and burnout is reaching a level where some physicians do not want to continue practicing. It is expected by 2030 New Mexico will have the eighth-highest doctor shortage in the country.
We are underserved in every specialty and every part of our vast state, yet aspiring physicians willing to take on this challenge often find the cost of even public medical schools prohibitive and seek an alternate career path. That is a tragedy for them and for the communities they would serve.
To deal with this challenge, I have proposed an idea never tried in a public institution of higher education – free medical school at the University of New Mexico in exchange for a commitment to practice in our state for four years post-residency.