CAMDEN – The state must do more to attract and keep doctors within New Jersey’s borders, and there’s ways to do just that, says Paul Katz, the founding dean of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
Speaking to an Assembly budget panel meeting here, Katz told lawmakers Tuesday it’s imperative that the Garden State take steps to retain qualified physicians, as well as attract others to the state in light of a physician shortage.
“We’ve got to think a little differently than we thought in the past,” said Katz, speaking to the Assembly Budget Committee on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
A way to retain graduating physicians is to adopt loan repayment programs in exchange for between five and 10 years of practice in New Jersey, Katz said. He explained more than 80 percent of medical students graduate with about $160,000 worth of debt.
Additionally, the state does not have enough smaller practices to help keep physicians working in the state following graduation.
“We need to figure out ways to help place our grads into those practices,” he said. “They leave because there are not the opportunities that they want here.”
Establishing a low-cost mortgage program for physicians is also an example of action the Legislature could take to help lure medical professionals, he said.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the practice environment and a lot of it has to do with how we make it attractive for these individuals to stay here,” Katz said. “You want to make it more attractive to stay here.”
Katz testified during Tuesday’s hearing as Assembly lawmakers took their budget hearing on the road.