Selected Speeches

Family Medicine Residency, Eastern Shore

July 18, 2019
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Good afternoon, everyone. It’s wonderful to be here today celebrating this announcement. I’m going to echo the words of Dean Reece, because when I say that UMB takes care of Maryland, I mean all of Maryland—those of us who live in our cities, in our suburbs, and, yes, in our rural communities. I know we have “B” in our name, and we’re proud of our connection to Baltimore, but we’re also proud to serve the entire state with the best, most capable, most compassionate care there is.

So I have to thank Dr. Sigounas and his colleagues at HRSA who support our vision for better rural health care. I thank our UMB Provost Bruce Jarrell, Dean Reece, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Jason Ramirez, and everyone who put in the work to justify why this grant is so important to us, and how it will transform access and care for our Eastern Shore neighbors.

I thank our clinical partners Ken Kozel and Sara Rich, who’ve been caring for our Shore communities a long, long time and—frankly—they deserve a lot more help doing it. Secretary Neall, Deputy Secretary Howard Haft, Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips, and all of our colleagues at the Maryland Department of Health have been beating this drum that we need more primary care providers in rural Maryland. They’ve partnered with our entire Mid-Shore delegation, backing good policies to supply them. Thank you all.

Dean Reece mentioned a Washington Post article saying that 50 million Americans are now living in a health care shortage area. Just a couple of days ago, the newspaper published another article about the looming primary care shortage. This past spring, a record number of primary care residencies were offered to med school graduates. And yet the number of graduates who chose a primary care position reached an all-time low.

This disconnect between supply and demand is exacerbated in rural America. One in four people living in rural communities say they’ve had a recent incident in which they couldn’t get the health care they needed. And the second biggest reason for that (behind cost) was that it was too far—too difficult—to get themselves to a doctor.

That’s not how health care should work. In fact, that’s exactly how health care isn’t working in rural America.

Residency programs like this one are so important because they coax providers into places like our beautiful Shore, where they get to know the communities and the patients they serve, where they come to appreciate the hard-but-rewarding work of rural health care, where they meet friends, fall in love, start families, and become part of the community.

We know that most Family Medicine residents end up practicing close to where they were trained. And certainly, these residents are going to be far more likely to choose the Mid-Shore than physicians who’ve never had the chance to work there. I know Mr. Kozel can speak to this phenomenon. When Shore Regional Health opened up clinical rotations to physician assistants who trained through our program with Anne Arundel Community College, we ended up with more PA graduates employed in Mid-Shore practices.

And once physicians have made the decision to stay and work in rural areas, there’s a ripple effect. They open up medical practices, they hire staff, they pay taxes, and they dramatically boost the region’s economic output. So rural physicians have an enormous impact—not only on the health of individuals but on the health of entire communities. They are critical to rural vibrancy and sustainability.

I thank everyone who knows this to be true, and is working to make sure that not one of Maryland’s communities is left behind.

 Thank you.


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