A prescription for improving state's health

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 18, 2014 

South Carolina ranks 39th nationally for access to health care with 77.5 primary care physicians per 100,000 compared to other states' average of 90.1. With recent legislation tackling insurance affordability, we desperately need more primary care providers.

We are members of the Institute for Primary Care Education, a partnership between the students at MUSC and USC. As South Carolina's future health care providers, we are invested in advocating for you by proposing the following solutions.

First, we must expand the number of S.C. primary care residency positions. States have higher physician retention rates when students attend both medical school and resident training there. However, despite new medical schools, there has been no equivalent increase in residency spots since 1997.

We also support allowing NPs and PAs to practice to the full extent of their education. S.C. restricts these providers from performing services that other states allow. S.C. NPs and PAs are required to practice within 45 and 60 miles of their supervising physicians, respectively. Removing this distance limitation would expand health care to rural areas.

Finally, we support state funding for the Office for Health care Workforce Analysis and Planning (OHWAP) as a way to monitor the state's health care needs. Currently, the OHWAP is in its last year of funding from The Duke Endowment. Improvement cannot be achieved without the research that OHWAP provides.

Together, we can address them through education, transparency, and ultimately political change to best serve all South Carolinians.

Jenna Elrod

Mt. Pleasant

Editor's Note: Elrod is a family nurse practitioner student at the Medical University of South Carolina.

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