SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “Primary care is what I’ve always wanted to do,” said Dr. George He.
The young doctor took a leap of faith just about a month ago moving to Springfield from New York to practice medicine.
“Me and my wife we brought everything out here to make it work,” he said.
In 2014 Missouri passed a law creating a new category of doctors called assistant physicians.
“I’ve been following it since,” said Dr. He.
Tha PA’s are medical school graduates who passed all key exams but weren’t placed in a residency.
“I’ve applied through the match twice, and I’ve had more than six interviews,” said He.
He says he’s known many others who found themselves in the same situation after graduating.
“I’ve known many friends from Georgetown University and they’ve never matched either. And even Johns Hopkins, people don’t match from Johns Hopkins,” he said.
Dr. Tricia Derges, founder Lift Up Springfield, a clinic providing health care services to the homeless and underserved, says the country simply doesn’t have enough residencies for all of the doctors graduating.
“They are totally qualified doctors,” Dr. Derges said.
The new legislation in Missouri hoped to bridge some of that gap. It also requires the assistant physician to work in underserved areas.
Doctor He has already found a place he’d like to work as a volunteer. He’s been shadowing at Lift Up Springfield because as an AP, he’s also required to be sponsored by another physician.
“Being out here and being able to help those people, it’s my way of giving back,” he said.
“The assistant physician requires a collaborator,” said Dr. Derges. “The AP’s are full blown doctors; they have their own insurance. They just simply need to have someone to call to say ‘hey, I wanted to run this by you. What do you think?’ So, just like that life line call.”
A collaborator can be a licensed retired or independent doctor.
“It’s zero liability for them,” said Dr. He.
Their assistance would help Lift Up Springfield to increase its outreach by bringing in qualified doctors, and allow Dr. He, and others like him, to live out a dream of treating patients.
“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “It would make everything possible.”
If you or anyone you know is a retired or independent licensed physician who could be a collaborator for these assistant physicians get in touch with Lift Up Springfield here.