National report reveals dire extent of rural OB-GYN service shortage

From the New Mexican:

The rural hospital’s struggles to find and retain OB-GYN specialists and other health care professionals aren’t unique. Hospitals and clinics around the U.S., especially in rural areas, are competing against each other for an increasingly limited number of obstetricians, according to a report released last week by the Pew Charitable Trust. At the same time, the number of births and the need for such doctors are expected to increase, health studies and the U.S. Census Bureau find.

In 2011, nine New Mexico counties lacked any OB-GYN services. Seven counties in the state lacked a certified nurse midwife or an OB-GYN doctor. Nearly half of all counties in the U.S., 1,459 total, lacked such a specialist in 2011 and more than half had no certified nurse midwives, according to the Pew report.

“It’s very simple,” said William Rayburn, an OB-GYN professor at The University of New Mexico, in the Pew report. “Our population is continuing to grow faster than we are producing ob-gyns.”

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