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New residency program looks to tackle shortage of primary care doctors in Canyon County

The county currently has one primary care doctor for every 3,300 patients.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho ranks 49th out of 50 U.S. states when it comes to the number of primary care doctors per capita, which means there's a huge shortage. 

Right now, there's an effort to fix that problem with a 10-year graduate medical education plan. The hope is that the program will increase the number of medical residents training here by 256% by 2028, according to Family Medicine Residency of Idaho.

“So, increasing the number of residents will increase the number of physicians who choose to stay in the state,” said program director Dr. Kimberly Stutzman.

That is why, Family Medicine has opened a new residency program in Nampa.

“My goal is that they walk out of here being successful community physicians meeting the needs of their future communities whatever those needs may be,” Stutzman said. 

Cate Heil, a Kansas native, is one of the program's six residents.

“Rural health is important to me because I’m from a rural state and there can be unique challenges in rural areas,” Heil said. 

For the next three years, Heil, along with five other residents will be doing various rotations at Family Medicine, along with St. Lukes in Nampa. 

“I’ll be working in the hospital, learning about delivering babies, working in the ER and working with specialists, as well,” Heil said. 

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Their training comes as some Idahoans are struggling to find physicians who are accepting new patients.

“If you look at Ada County, there's one primary care doctor for every 1,100 patients, in Canyon County it's over 3,000 patients per provider so the difference is really staggering,” Stutzman said. 

On a national average, there's one physician for every 630 patients.

“So, there's a big need in Canyon County,” Stutzman said. “Hopefully these guys will love it here and stay.”

RELATED: University of Idaho program aims to fill Idaho's rural doctor shortage

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