Nationwide doctor shortage can be felt in El Paso

Doctor shortage

EL PASO, Texas - By 2032, the United States will be short nearly 122,000 physicians, according to a recent study from the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

El Paso is feeling the shortage already. 

"We're short of pediatricians. We're short of general surgeons, and of course there's always a shortage of psychiatrists," said Dr. Raj Marwah, an El Paso rheumatologist and spokesman for the El Paso County Medical Society. "It's always a flux and the population of El Paso is close to a million, and we're underserved in many ways." 

The shortage isn't affect all health care professionals. 

"We're getting more mid-level people, [physicians' assistants] and nurse practitioners," he said. "They're becoming more involved." 

Dr. Paul Ogden, the Provost of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said the city has about 50 percent of the physicians it needs. 

Marwah says one of the reasons could be a lack of accessible education. 

"Getting into medical school and finishing medical school... after that, you come back to student loans," Marwah said. "So for an average general human, going through the stages of training, you have easily a big debt on your head. $200,000 or $300,000." 

Ogden hasn't seen a drop in competitive applicants. Texas Tech is planning to expand its medical school class size, and will be adding more residency positions. 

"Most doctors end up practicing in proximity to where they did their residency," said Ogden."One of the things that's been in shortage here in El Paso is residency programs." 

As the city continues to grow, so does its need for more doctors.  

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