The Utah Senate is ready to spend ten million dollars to expand the number of medical students at the University of Utah. Senate Bill 42 would let the University of Utah medical school add 40 slots for new students -- with the condition that the new applicants have a significant connection to Utah. The bill has bipartisan support. Democrat Luz Robles argued the shortage of doctors is worse in rural parts of the state.
"Utah is in desperate need for more primary care physicians," Robles said during debate on the Senate floor. "Particularly family physicians, but also general internists and general pediatricians."
Jason Perry, the university's vice-president for government relations, says attracting more students from Utah is a great idea.
"The tuition for these Utah residents," Perry says, "is so much lower than you would have in other parts of the state. It's much more likely that these physicians can practice family medicine in the state of Utah."
The bill faces one more vote in the Senate. Because it involves new spending, it'll be held up until the end of the session when all spending bills are prioritized.
A blog post on this subject by Dr. Vivian Lee, the University of Utah's Senior Vice-President for Health Sciences