July 6, 2022

One step forward, two steps back

The dust has settled on the 2021-2022 Iowa legislative session and we can now see how the cause of health care access for Iowans was furthered. One bill I watched closely called for funding more psychiatric residencies, intended to address the mental health needs of Iowans.

So the good news is that there will be an additional 12 psychiatric residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals. Preference will be given to Iowa residents who got their undergraduate or medical degree at an Iowa school. All good, right? 

Not so much. Less than one fourth of Iowa's medical school graduates stay in Iowa, and only one third of those who complete a medical residency in Iowa end up practicing here. (FYI, data is from the Association of American Medical Schools, because Iowa's medical schools don't even track this.) This new law contains no incentives or mandatory requirements to stick around after the residency. $1,200,000 per year will be spent on these scarce residency slots. 

I cannot understand why policy makers refuse to acknowledge the brain drain of Iowa's medical professionals that further threatens Iowans' access to care. It eludes me.