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Missouri, Illinois Face Shortage of Family Doctors

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By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Dr. Mark Mengel with the St. Louis University School of Medicine says in all but five of Missouri's 116 counties, less than one primary care physician serves 3,500 people.

Mengel says that lack of access to family care physicians means people often wait until their illness is advanced before seeking treatment:

"They also go to emergency rooms more often, which is more costly than seeing a primary care doctor," Mengel said. "So it drives up the cost of care and contributes to the poor health outcomes we have in certain parts of the state."

Mengel says the shortage is linked in part to a belief among medical students that they can make more money if they specialize, and that they'll have to work longer hours in family medicine.

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