It could be just what the doctor ordered for Texas communities in need of physicians as well as cash-strapped medical school graduates.
A bill introduced in the legislature proposes paying off medical school loans for students who choose to become primary care physicians. In return, the new doctor would agree to work in an under-served area. Funding would come from a modified tobacco tax to help repay student loans.
Backers of the bill say there's a shortage of family doctors in some parts of Texas because more medical school graduates are opting for higher-paying careers in specialized medicine.
Dr. Robert Hash, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine said the bill is a good idea. He said the average medical student leaves school owing $130,000 in student loans.
Dr. Hash also notes that Texas ranks 43 in the nation for total number of physicians. That ranking drops to 47 in the country for primary care physicians.
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