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Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, right, recalls his highlights of being in office during the Vintage Vegas Luncheon sponsored by the Latin Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. Four Nevada governors spoke at the forum. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Gov. Brian Sandoval announced funding for four graduate medical education residency and fellowship programs on Thursday as the state continues to take steps to address an ongoing shortage of physicians.

Valley Health System and three separate programs through the UNLV School of Medicine will share $3.3 million out of a total of $10 million in funding approved by the Legislature in 2017 to support graduate medical education. The recommendations to fund the four programs came from the Graduate Medical Education Task Force, which Sandoval established in 2014 to develop proposals for state funding of medical education.

The state awarded the first $5 million of the $10 million in June to eight applicants, and the remaining $1.7 million will be awarded in the spring following a competitive application process. Those sums are in addition to the $10 million that Sandoval proposed and lawmakers approved during the 2015 session, which were distributed to 10 recipients in 2016.

“Ensuring Nevadans have access to high-quality healthcare has been one of my top priorities in office,” Sandoval said in a statement.  “Growing Nevada’s physician workforce is essential to meeting this goal and funding from this grant will help increase the number of physicians completing their graduate medical education in Nevada.”

Valley Health System will receive $961,955 for an infrastructure expansion of Henderson Hospital, while UNLV School of Medicine’s critical care medicine program will receive $80,000, it’s critical care surgery fellowship will receive $1,560,179, and its geriatrics fellowship will receive $722,346.

Ongoing state funding of graduate medical education is aimed at addressing the gap between the number of undergraduate medical students the state educates and the number of residencies and fellowships available in-state to those students. A study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) found that more than half of doctors tend to practice in the same state where they completed their residency training.

The state anticipates that the funding will create five new residency and fellowship positions across the state in high-demand specialties within four years and help ensure that Nevada medical students remain in state to practice medicine.

“Graduate Medical Education is an important part of Nevada’s strategy to grow its physician workforce and increase access to high-quality healthcare,” said Brian Mitchell, director of the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology, in a statement. “We’re excited that these partnerships will provide new residency programs and state-of-the-art instruction for Nevada’s next generation of doctors,”

There are currently 175 licensed physicians per 100,000 Nevadans, compared to 261.8 per 100,000 nationwide, according to the State Board of Medical Examiners. A separate AAMC report ranked Nevada 47th in the nation for active physicians, 48th for active primary care physicians and 49th for active general surgeons per capita.

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