One thing made perfectly clear during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic is that those among us serving in the health and medical fields have become frontline heroes.
And they need reinforcements.
That’s why an announcement made Thursday by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s medical school that it has received funding to enhance training for doctors serving rural and underserved areas of the state is worthy of applause.
The goal is to produce more and better medical care in rural areas throughout Alabama. It certainly is needed, especially following the closure of various hospitals and clinics around the state because of failing fiscal budgets, even before the impact of COVID-19.
UAB announced that its Department of Family and Community Medicine was awarded a “$7 million grant to address the need for training additional family medicine physicians to serve in rural and underserved areas of the state.”
The grant “will enable the department to develop novel high school and college pipeline programs, medical student programming, and faculty development programs to enhance curriculum and mentoring efforts.”
The state faces a shortage of doctors now and in the coming years, the school reports.
“Currently, our state needs more than 600 additional primary care providers to meet the needs of the patients and the kinds of health conditions that we will be seeing by 2030,” said Irfan Asif, M.D., department chair.
“To address this deficit, we must be aggressive in the family medicine and primary care programming that we develop and implement. This grant will go a long way toward helping us achieve that goal,” he said.
The Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is providing the grant, which provides for a four-year term, with an annual budget of more than $1.7 million.
“With an insufficient physician workforce, Alabama struggles to adequately prevent disease. This contributes to our state ranking in the bottom five in the country for many chronic illnesses,” Asif said.
Let us hope that the program can produce clearly evident results, and sooner rather than later.
Alabama needs it.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!