SPOKANE, Wash. - For years WSU Spokane, Providence Health Care and the Empire Health Foundation have worked to bring more medical residents to Spokane in order to grow the number of doctors in the area, and that effort is paying off.
Six new medical residents started working in Spokane this week, and where that number sounds fairly small, the impact they will have is great.
Trying to make a doctor's appointment can be frustrating. It's frightening hearing that you're unable to see your doctor for months, and the annoyance doesn't just impact patients.
"It's a hard thing to see people wait around and say, 'I can't see my doctor for three months.' That's impossible for our community. It is not okay," Dr. Todd Brooking with Providence Health Care said.
The doctor shortage in Spokane and surrounding communities is only going to get worse.
"In the next five years our community is going to have about 30 percent of the family doctors retire," Brooking said.
That's why WSU Spokane, Providence Health Care and the Empire Health Foundation worked together to get federal funding to bring in more medical residents.
"The existing system is basically maxed out. This is a new funding source that we've tapped into at the national level that's allowing us to add new doctors in training," Andrew Chiang with Empire Health said.
"When we train the doctors around here 80 percent stay around here or the Inland Northwest, so we're bringing them into our community and keeping them in our community," Brooking added.
Right now there are 1,600 residents being trained across Washington state, 74 in Spokane, which will soon increase to 80.
However if funding for medical residents continues to grow here is Spokane the increase of residents will grow exponentially.
"We will have 119 residents training in Spokane, that's a 60 some odd increase in the number of residents," Robert Maudlin with Providence Health Care said.