Disability Pride Festival, Training Physicians In Rural Wisconsin, Genetic Editing In Embryos

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Finding the right health care facility and doctor can be a challenge in the state’s rural areas, but a new program is helping place graduating physicians in the spots that need them most. The director of the effort shares the details. For the first time in the U.S., scientists have successfully edited the genes of human embryos. A doctor talks about what this means for parents and human health in the future. We also hear about a disability pride festival happening in Wisconsin.

Featured in this Show

  • Madison Disability Pride Festival Takes Place This Weekend

    An upcoming Wisconsin festival looks to celebrate the contributions made by people with disabilities in and around the state’s capital city. We learn more about Madison’s Disability Pride festival, and what it’s all about.

  • Amid Physician Shortage, UW Program Trains Doctors To Fill Gaps In Rural Areas

    Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, is facing a major health care shortage.

    Though 29 percent of Wisconsin residents live in a rural area, only 13 percent of Wisconsin physicians have rural practices, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    That shortage is only expected to continue. By 2025, experts expect an additional shortage of up to 30,000 physicians nationwide, said Byron Crouse, director of UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine.

    “A lot of what we try to do within the primary care world is to address problems, early prevention, early intervention,” he said. “And if people have to be delayed because there just isn’t access to be seen, that delays that whole process and results in disease being more advanced, more complicated, more expensive.”

    For 10 years now, the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine has attempted to reverse that trend.

    The goal, Crouse said, is to attract people from rural Wisconsin who can go through medical schooling in the state, then return to those rural areas to set up a practice.

    This year, the program admitted 26 students, who will school in communities such as Green Bay and La Crosse.

    The majority of medical students who complete schooling in Wisconsin stay within the state to open a practice, Crouse said, and over the years, the academy has been able to increase the number of graduates staying in the state. Ninety-two percent of the program’s graduates over the last 10 years are practicing in Wisconsin.

    “We see a good probability in going back to their home town,” he said. “It’s win-win for everybody in that area.”

    Though the program focuses on family medicine, Crouse said initial research when the program began indicated there’s a need for specialists in all areas.

    The program’s creators met with representatives from rural hospitals and clinics, who said family medicine was in greatest demand.

    “But everybody we spoke with, before they could take another breath, would say, ‘But we need a general surgeon, we need a psychiatrist, we need a radiologist,’ the list would go on,” he said.

    Having to travel to see a specialist can be a huge burden on an already financially-strapped family, Crouse said. And with so few physicians — a small town of 3,000 can have as few as five — when a physician happens to move away, the community faces an even bigger gap.

    Two-thirds of Wisconsin’s counties are designated “health professional shortage areas,” defined as “geographic areas, populations, and facilities with too few primary care, dental and mental health providers and services,” according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

    Crouse said projections indicate the universal shortage won’t be solved anytime soon, but one key to fixing this long-term problem could be to continue to train physicians for rural areas.

  • Training Doctors to Practice in Rural Wisconsin

    We learn about a state program that helps place graduating physicians in Wisconsin’s rural areas.

  • Gene Editing In Embryos Raises Ethical, Medical Dilemmas

    Researchers in Oregon have edited the genes of human embryos in what is believed the be the first experiment of its kind in the United States. We speak with Dr. Wendy Chung of Columbia University about the medical and ethical quandaries this technology raises.

Episode Credits

  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Kate Moran Guest
  • Byron Crouse Guest
  • Dr. Wendy Chung Guest