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SIU medical program aims to fill rural health care gap

November 9, 2018

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University’s medical school is trying to bring more doctors, physicians and medical students to Carbondale and nearby rural areas where they’re desperately needed.

Under the new Lincoln Scholars program, eight medical students selected each year would be trained entirely in Southern Illinois and not in Springfield, where the majority of SIU medical students now study, The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reported.

University officials said the goal of the program is to groom the next generation of rural caregivers at a time when health care is increasingly concentrated in urban areas.

“We think this will spawn an entirely new type of medical education,” said Jerry Kruse, dean of the medical school. “There’s a significant need for better health care and medical training in rural areas, and there’s need for comprehensive primary care across the United States.”

Administrators said it is especially important for SIU to launch the program because there are far more medical school alumni working in the Springfield area than in rural counties in the southern end of the state.

“We’re tired of people writing off rural medicine. (Rural) hospital CEOs are tired of recruiting doctors only to have them leave,” said Dr. James Daniels, the medical school’s assistant dean for student affairs. “We need to find and train special people, people who want to be here, and who are going to be community leaders.”

The Lincoln Scholars program is still in development and will take several years of planning, medical school leaders said. Curriculum still needs approval from regulatory agencies committees and groups and likely won’t take effect until 2020, Kruse said.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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