Shortage of pediatricians in rural areas, too many doctors in urban areas, study says

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Nearly 1 million American children living mostly in rural areas have no doctor to call if they get a get a sore throat or an ear infection. Meanwhile, some metropolitan areas are crawling with family physicians and pediatricians — about one doctor for every 140 kids in some places. As a result, children in more urban areas have better access to health care, reports a new study published online this week in the journal Pediatrics.

It’s not that there aren’t enough child physicians to go around. Their numbers increased pretty dramatically between 1996 and 2006; the number of pediatricians grew by 51% and family physicians jumped by 35%.

“We are training enough doctors, but they are not choosing to go to areas where they are most needed,” says Scott Shipman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School.

Full story: In rural areas, there may be no doctors to tend to your sick kid