Oklahoma faces not only a shortage of primary care doctors but also has a lack of occupational therapists and physical therapists, said Jim Durbin, executive director of the Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center.
One of the issues Oklahoma faces is that colleges that train these types of medical professionals don't have enough space or resources to meet the demand, he said.
And there currently isn't any movement to do anything about it, he said.
“They've been cutting their budgets, not adding to them, because of the state budget issues as well, and so we're trying to keep people aware that these problems exist, but until there's some more resources at the state level to expand that education pipeline, there isn't a whole lot that is going to be done,” he said.
Durbin said students should consider getting a bachelor's degree instead of an associate degree if they can.
More and more hospitals are looking for people with bachelor's degree level training, he said.
“With the Affordable Care Act expanding access to care to tens of thousands more Oklahomans and with the baby boomer group aging, we know that the demand for nurses is going to increase,” he said. “We're just not there yet for a variety of reasons.”
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