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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Budget fallout? More medical school grads leaving Louisiana

Budget fallout? More medical school grads leaving Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana State University's medical school in New Orleans says fewer of its students want to stay in Louisiana to finish their training because of the continued threat of state budget cuts.

LSU Health New Orleans announced Friday that 89 of its 193 graduating medical students, or 46 percent, decided to remain in Louisiana for their residency programs. That's down from 49 percent last year and 64 percent six years ago.

"The anxiety our students feel over budget cuts, either proposed or imposed, to higher education and health care is continuing to erode their confidence in Louisiana," Larry Hollier, chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, said in a statement.

"Our graduates are in great demand by programs in other states, and the constant uncertainty is driving them out of Louisiana in growing numbers," he said.

The state's financial troubles have forced cuts on the schools in previous years over the last decade, and again, higher education and the safety-net health hospitals and clinics in which medical students train are at risk of reductions in the budget year that begins July 1.

Louisiana has an estimated $700 million gap in the upcoming fiscal year, caused by the expiration of temporary taxes.

Lawmakers so far have refused to back replacement taxes, with a February special session on taxes ending in total collapse amid partisan gridlock in the House. Another special session is expected sometime in May, but it's unclear when financing plans will be settled.

Health officials worry that decisions for students to leave Louisiana for their residency training could worsen doctor shortages in the state. They point to research showing that high percentages of doctors set up their permanent practices in the places they complete their residency programs.

"In the past when our students chose out-of-state residency programs, they left to broaden their experience, and many would come home to practice. But if they leave because they think Louisiana's future as a place to live and practice is in question, they will never return," Dr. Steve Nelson, medical school dean, said in a statement.


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