HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - William Carey University will graduate its first class from the Osteopathic School this May, but according to the school's Dean, 90 percent of those students will leave the state of Mississippi to complete their residency.
"The problem with that is if they go outside the state of Mississippi, traditionally, historically, about 50 percent of them are going to practice where they do their residency, and there's no guarantee that the other 50 percent will come back to Mississippi," said Jim Turner, Dean of Osteopathic Medicine at WCU.
Senator John Polk authored Senate Bill 26-09 which provides up to 3 million dollars over three years to help hospitals in rural areas with residency programs, including start-ups.
"If we can get them into the small community, and even if they only retain 50 percent of their physicians that train there, it will increase the overall base of physicians to meet the need," said Turner.
Between the medical school in Jackson, and WCU, Mississippi will produce about 260 graduates this year. Of that number, only 140 will remain in the state.
The residency programs available here are in Tupelo, Corinth, Jackson, Meridian and Forrest General Hospital.
Turner said if this bill passes, it would not only increase options for graduates, but it would also benefit some of the least healthy regions in Mississippi.
"We're really in need of more programs for our graduates within the state, and hopefully some of those could be developed in rural settings where the need is the greatest," said Turner.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously last month and if it makes it out of the committees this week, it will go to the House of Representatives.