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Published: Sunday, 10/22/2006

Keeping good doctors here

Here's another reason the "brain drain" phenomenon demands attention and intervention: Far too few doctors who graduate from Toledo's college of medicine remain here to fulfill the demands of their residencies. What that means is that it's less likely they will end up living here. That must change.

Fortunately there is no shortage of physicians, at least not a significant one. More than 80 percent of the physicians who practice in the area graduated from the University of Toledo's medical school when it was the Medical University of Ohio. Since the UT-MUO merger in July, it is the Health Sciences Campus.

However, signs are ominous. A decade ago, about 25 percent of medical school graduates stayed here to complete their residencies. Now, fewer than 10 percent do.

Wherever doctors finish their residencies is where they tend to settle, and the Toledo area needs as many good physicians living here as possible. It is during residencies that new doctors develop specializations that might include pediatrics, neurology, cardiology, or urology.

Although this issue underscores that the brain drain is real and serious, UT is considering what it correctly describes as a Band-Aid approach. UT officials want to convince health-care providers to cooperate on educational issues. That could work, but it is not the entire answer. Programs and initiatives must be developed to make remaining here irresistible for young graduating physicians.

Of course doctors in residency don't have much time for entertainment. But improving Toledo's entertainment scene is one part of the puzzle.

Helping new doctors realize what the region has to offer - affordable living in terms of housing and education, and easy access to major thoroughfares - is essential to persuading promising residents to land and build lives here.

The doctor should be in - not gone.

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