Effort to Train More Doctors Includes Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians

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CHOCTAW, Miss.–An effort to not only recruit more doctors to work in Mississippi, but to also train them from within, may include a family medicine practice for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

“It’s very difficult to recruit, as we all know, to recruit physicians to the area,” said Dr. John Mitchell, head of the Mississippi Office for Physician Workforce, in a presentation to the state House Committee on Public Health and Welfare, this week.

That committee is looking at ways to help train doctors with residency programs in rural areas, with the belief that doctors may choose to work in areas where they train.

One example of that is in the Delta, where a new residency program graduated seven doctors last year in Greenville. Mitchell said four of them stayed in the Delta, an area that is about 100 doctors short of what it should have.

“They also have a lot of problems in health care and they have the opportunity to do something about that,” said Mitchell, referring to the Choctaw reservation. Where there are fewer doctors than needed, healthcare suffers and so does overall health.

Mitchell said he met with the Choctaw leaders last week.

“We had a very good conversation and we’re gonna work on a grant there to help them investigate further on possibly creating a family medicine program there.”

He did not give a timeline for when action might be taken, nor did he provide details on the possible grant.