ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers want to address a looming shortage of health care professionals.

The state is expected to be short somewhere between 800 and a few thousand doctors over the next decade, with the shortages most acute in rural areas. More dentists, nurses and others are also likely to be needed.

Legislators want to expand a program that helps pay off student loans for health care workers who spend three years in a rural area after graduation. They say it will encourage those workers to stay in greater Minnesota even after their three years are up.

Senator Greg Clausen says adding $3 million to the program will open up 200 more slots for dentists, doctors, mental health workers and other health care professionals.