New Bill Seeks California Physician Shortage By Expanding Student Loan Cancellations

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(KTXL) – As far back as Andrea Silva can remember, she wanted to save lives.

The UC Davis graduate has spent a decade of her life preparing for a career in medicine, and in 2018 she traded her cap and dress for a white lab coat.

“None of us do this for the money. None of us at all. We love what we do. It’s such a fabulous job and I’m so lucky to have it, ”said Silva.

Silva is now in her final year of residency in Stanislaus County and although she is excited about her future in healthcare, she is worried about paying off the half a million dollars in loans it took to get there.

“It’s really a burden to have such high loans,” said Silva. “A lot of my residents are talking about moving out of state in order to get better loan cancellation programs and it’s really disheartening.”

This week, Rep. Josh Harder, D-Modesto, introduced a bill to help relieve Silva and other aspiring doctors.

If passed, the law would expand the federal loan cancellation program to prospective doctors in California.

Currently, students from all states except California and Texas are eligible.

“About a year and a half ago, we graduated 12 new Stanislaus County physicians as part of our family residency program. Of those 12 new doctors, 1 of them stayed, ”said Harder.

Harder says the pandemic has highlighted a shortage of doctors in California, especially in underserved communities, and this bill gives doctors a reason to practice medicine statewide.

“COVID has shown the flaws in our health care system here in the valley,” Harder explained. “These cracks existed before. We knew two years ago that we didn’t have enough nurses or doctors, but now that we’ve seen all the stress this pandemic has put on our health facilities in the valley, we need it more than ever. of this bill. “

Silva hopes to stay in the Central Valley once she becomes a doctor as long as her academic investment doesn’t prevent her from building a life outside of the hospital.

“I have never owned a house. I always wanted to have a house. I would be able to take better care of my mother who struggled for years, ”said Silva. “It would just be nice to have that security and to know that I’m not going into my first real job in a big hole you have to dig yourself into.”

The California Medical Association predicts that the bill could bring up to 10,000 new doctors to California over the next ten years.

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