Louisiana's chronic refusal to address its structural budget deficit is a likely reason why medical school graduates are leaving the state at higher rates than just a few years ago. As the AP's Melinda Deslatte reports, last week was when newly minted doctors found out where they will "match" with post-graduate residency programs. Only 46 percent of LSU's medical school in New Orleans will stay in Louisiana - down from 64 percent just six years ago.
"The anxiety our students feel over budget cuts, either proposed or imposed, to higher education and health care is continuing to erode their confidence in Louisiana," Larry Hollier, chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, said in a statement. "Our graduates are in great demand by programs in other states, and the constant uncertainty is driving them out of Louisiana in growing numbers," he said. The state's financial troubles have forced cuts on the schools in previous years over the last decade, and again, higher education and the safety-net health hospitals and clinics in which medical students train are at risk of reductions in the budget year that begins July 1.
Nola.com/The Times-Picayune's Maria Clark notes that Louisiana's financial shortfall could prompt the operators of the new University Medical Center to walk away from their state contract.
If this happens, the hospital would revert to state control. School leaders say that the move would have instant ramifications for their residency programs at UMC and create long-term consequences for Louisiana's healthcare industry. "Depending on what happens to the hospital it would be extraordinarily difficult for the schools," said Dr. Lee Hamm, the Dean of Tulane's School of Medicine. "We would have to find other training vehicles for residents in the city if it happens. Would it be extremely problematic for the resident? Yes."