New plan will add residency positions in Northwest Arkansas medical community


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A new program approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council will make Arkansas less likely to lose future doctors. This program will create residencies in Northwest Arkansas over the next decade.

“Northwest Arkansas is growing,” said Larry Shackelford, Washington Regional’s President and CEO. “It’s a really important piece to be able to train more physicians.”

Shackelford said more medical school graduates will soon be able to stay home for their residencies. This is the time when graduates train to be a particular type of doctor. Because of a residency shortage in Arkansas, most Arkansas medical school graduates continue their education in other parts of the country and don’t ultimately return.

“We’ve looked, and we have recognized the problem of not enough training opportunities,” Shackelford said.

Washington Regional and UAMS teamed up for a plan to create up to 92 new residencies since 2030.

“The first residents will be starting in a couple years,” Shackelford said.

The ALC approved more than $12 million to fund the project, which addresses concerns laid out in a 2019 NWA Council study.

“The region is about 200 residencies below the national average,” said Nelson Peacock, the NWA Council President and CEO.

Peacock said the economic impact of keeping these graduates in the area is significant.

“We can get about $750,000 in economic impact per resident,” Peacock said.

Shackelford said the state ranks No. 49 in active physicians per 100,000 people. People have better lives when that ranking improves, he said.

“Having an opportunity to stay in the state in practice is a great opportunity,” Shackelford said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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