As dean of the new Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM) in Las Cruces, New Mexico, George Mychaskiw, DO, has big plans to improve the health care landscape in the Land of Enchantment.
Dr. Mychaskiw is committed to serving New Mexico’s underserved populations despite the fact that the state recently landed the No. 1 “worst” slot on Medscape’s annual Best and Worst Places to Practice report. The news website analyzed cost-of-living, malpractice payouts and physician density figures for all 50 states and individual markets to make its rankings.
Below, DOs in a few of Medscape’s “worst” states discuss their efforts to improve the health care climate in a challenging environment, and DOs in two of the report’s “best” states share why they were drawn to the opportunities there.
Above-average unemployment and large Medicaid deficits are among the drawbacks to practicing in New Mexico, according to Medscape. Nevertheless, Dr. Mychaskiw, who is also a practicing physician, says he felt called to provide help where it’s greatly needed.
Long before BCOM’s first lecture occurs this August, he has been busy establishing residency training programs in areas of the state that desperately need doctors.
“Our goal is to have practicing physician graduates in every county in New Mexico,” he says.
The Mountain State, which ranked second on Medscape’s worst places to practice, is plagued by poverty and low well-being scores, according to Medscape’s report. For the past 40 years, the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in Lewisburg has been producing DOs committed to helping improve health outcomes in the state, including its rural areas.
While all WVSOM students complete at least three rural/underserved rotations, students who participate in the school’s Rural Health Initiative gain additional exposure to rural medicine through various activities, including a four-week wilderness medicine rotation.
“When you practice in a rural area, you have a little more responsibility because you’re working farther away from hospitals and specialists. Working in rural and underserved areas in medical school helps students be prepared for these challenges,” says WVSOM dean Craig Boisvert, DO.
In the 28 years Dr. Boisvert has worked there, WVSOM has developed several programs, including the Rural Health Initiative, to encourage students to practice medicine in West Virginia.
A family vacation prompted Tiffany Lowe-Payne, DO, to relocate six years ago from New Jersey to North Carolina, which Medscape ranked the best state to practice for its six research hospitals and 100 community hospitals.
“I was pleasantly surprised how progressive the area is in terms of medical research,” says Dr. Lowe-Payne, a family physician in Raleigh, North Carolina. She practices near North Carolina’s research triangle, which is flanked by North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Medscape ranked Texas the second-best state to practice due to its business-friendly environment with a growing population of young professionals—the same reasons that led internist Omesh Singh, DO, to return home to Texas after he graduated from medical school in Florida.
“The suburbs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area continue to expand, bringing opportunities for new physicians that might not exist in more established areas like New York or Chicago,” says Dr. Singh, who practices in Fort Worth.
When speaking with colleagues contemplating the move to Texas, Dr. Singh says they are attracted by the state’s low cost of living, lack of a state income tax and the high demand for physicians to keep pace with the growing population.