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Rural states struggle to ease doctor shortage with laws to recruit medical school graduates

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Several new state laws intended to boost the ranks of doctors in underserved areas have yet to produce any actual results.

The laws in Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas allow new medical school graduates to start treating patients immediately, without going through years of traditional residency programs.

But Missouri regulators are still trying to implement the law more than 18 months after it first passed. And not a single new doctor has gone into practice in any of the states as a result of their new laws.

There are more than 6,200 places nationwide with a shortage of primary care physicians.

But the new laws have been opposed by some of the nation’s most influential medical organizations, including the American Medical Association. The groups say residency training remains important.