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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

MO Residency Training Program to Help Relieve Doctor Shortage

Psychotherapy session, woman talking to their psychologist in the office
Lorenzo Antonucci/loreanto - stock.adobe.com
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At least part of every county in Missouri, except one in the Kansas City area, has a doctor shortage, and mental health professionals can be especially hard to find.

Nearly every county in Missouri faces a doctor shortage, and the Ozark Center in Joplin for behavioral health is getting a funding boost to help train the next generation of Missouri psychiatrists.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $155 million to Teaching Health Centers nationwide operating primary-care residency programs. The Ozark Center is getting $2.4 million.

Carole Johnson, the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, said she is excited to see the centers doing the legwork to develop these programs.

"You have to be able to demonstrate that you have the staff to do the training, that you have the predecessors," Johnson explained. "That you have all those critical parts in place so that we're getting good, skilled clinicians through these programs."

In addition to medical and dental programs, a special emphasis has been placed on psychiatry residencies, with the hope of providing underserved communities with greater access to mental health services. The funding comes at a time when health care workers are facing burnout in large numbers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hope for the programs is medical residents will then stay to set up their practices in the communities where they are trained.

According to Johnson, health-center leaders believe this program will create a conduit to the health care workforce. But she feels it will also allow young healthcare professionals to understand what it's like to work in different environments.

"We want them to know what it's like to work with clients who have challenges getting child care, or getting transportation to the clinic to make their health care appointment," Johnson emphasized. "To really experience how to provide care to individuals who lead complicated lives and have other challenges in accessing health care services."

The bulk of the funding for these awards comes from the American Rescue Plan, approved by Congress in March 2021.

The Missouri News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Originally from just outside Boston, Lily Bohlke is formerly from 2020Talks, a show tracking politics and elections, that started prior to the 2020 Iowa caucuses at KHOI in Ames. She's also a past intern for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.