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Doctor Shortage Presents Challenges For Local Area [AUDIO]

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ST. CLOUD — If experts are correct, you may find it hard to schedule future appointments with your doctor.

A possible doctor shortage is looming within the medical field.

By 2020, it is estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians.

The problem could have a bigger impact on out-state Minnesota hospitals.

David Tilstra is the president of CentraCare Clinic in St. Cloud. He says a shortage would make it even more difficult to show Central Minnesota as a good destination to work.

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Problems are being identified at the college level. Schools are not graduating doctors at the same rate of demand for medical care.

Tilstra says fewer students are choosing the field due to the high cost and potential debt they will take on.

A lack of students isn’t the only issue facing the industry.

With changes from Obamacare starting to take hold, hospitals are trying to find new ways of providing quality service.

Tilstra says there are concerns of adding more patients to an already thin list of doctors.

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One possible remedy is allowing nurse practitioners to fill in for doctors when a patients comes in with a basic care need. The move would alleviate some of the problems hospitals face with such a shortage.

With all the changes happening, Tilstra says the world of medicine will look much different in years to come .

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The full impact of President Obama’s healthcare law will not be felt until 2014 – when much of the legislation will go into effect.

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