Missouri targets doctor shortage, expands first-in-nation law

Numerous additional doctors from around the U.S. could become eligible to treat patients in Missouri’s underserved areas as a result of a planned expansion of a first-in-the-nation law aimed at addressing a pervasive doctor shortage.

The legislation, passed by the Missouri Legislature and awaiting a decision from Gov. Eric Greitens, would broaden the reach of a 2014 law that sought to bridge the gap between communities in need of doctors and physicians in need of jobs.

That law created a new category of licensed professionals — “assistant physicians” — for people who graduate from medical school and pass key medical exams but aren’t placed in residency programs needed for certification.

But it took nearly 2 1/2 years before Missouri began accepting applications Jan. 31. By then, some applicants no longer qualified because too much time had lapsed since their medical exams.

Missouri’s new legislation seeks to turn back the clock, so those who became ineligible during the slow rollout still can get licensed as assistant physicians.

Read more: Southeast Missourian, St. Louis Business Journal

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