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Can once at-risk medical school pipeline help boost primary care in Delaware?

October 29, 2018

Just two years ago, many in the medical community feared the loss of a state program that helps Delaware students attend medical school.

This year, it has 38 students, the largest class of its 50-year-history, and state officials and doctors believe the class could help ease Delaware’s lack of primary care doctors. They hope some will choose rural practices.

Here’s how that turnaround happened.

Legislators didn’t put $$$ in budget

Delaware was on the verge of becoming the only state to not have a medical school or a formal agreement to send students to one in June 2016.

Legislators did not include funding for the state’s medical school pipeline — Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research — in the General Assembly’s budget for fiscal year 2017. Doctors feared the cut would have a ripple effect on the state’s already vulnerable physician workforce, ultimately hurting patients’ care.

“It was doom and gloom,” said institute chair Sherman Townsend. “But sometimes you need the kick of the tummy to get going.”

Legislators found the money elsewhere that year, and the next year restored funding in the budget.

With its funding restored, the institute had the largest class of its 50-year-history in 2018 with 38 first-year medical students — all Delaware residents — attending Thomas Jefferson University’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Continue Reading at Delaware Online