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California county will repay loans for pediatric subspecialists

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 28, 2009

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The Children & Families Commission of Orange County, Calif., plans to launch, beginning January 2010, a physician loan repayment program for pediatric subspecialists in areas including neurology, endocrinology and orthopedics.

Subspecialists who are approved by the commission and agree to practice in the county for three years, will receive $125,000 to repay medical education loans. The program, believed to be the first in the state that is exclusive to a county, will be funded through 2012 via cigarette taxes.

Like many regions throughout the nation, Orange County is facing a severe shortage of such specialists.

"Although general pediatricians are doing a little bit better, for the subspecialties we have concerns," said Beth A. Pletcher, MD, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Pediatric Workforce. She attributes the shortage to the lengthier training period for subspecialists in general and the lower pay in pediatrics, especially for surgeons, compared with that for specialists who treat adult patients.

The commission expects to recruit at least six new specialists in the next three years.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/12/28/prbf1228.htm.

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