BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Hospital officials are hoping new residency programs in Batesville could mean more doctors and specialists practicing in the area.
Right now, the White River Medical Center has 10 residents in the internal medicine program.
"This residency program doesn't happen overnight," WRMC CEO Gary Bebow said. "In fact, we started the planning on this probably 10 years ago."
That number of residences is going to grow in July when the second group of 10 students will begin their residencies.
In 2019, a new family medicine residency program will begin with six students.
"By 2021, we will have 48 physicians in training in the Batesville area," Bebow said.
The hope is that those doctors eventually choose to practice in the Independence County area and serve the local citizens.
"The service area, while it's not very densely populated, there's still a lot of people that look to Batesville or White River Health System for their medical care and needs," Bebow said. "So what we find is when we bring in specialists, people will travel great distances to come to Batesville for that care where otherwise they may not have access to it or may have to travel even farther whether it's to Little Rock or other, large metropolitan areas."
Bebow also said the good thing about internal medicine residents is that they often go into specialty fields like nephrology or gastroenterology, which are needed in rural areas.