Recruiting physicians: Local doctors share their story (part 2)

Two additional doctors tell us why they think more of their contemporaries have chosen to stay away, and what could be done to bring them home.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 11:35 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - In part one of a KGNS special report on Laredo’s shortage of physicians, we heard from two Laredo-born physicians on the reasons they chose to come home to set up their practice.

On Monday, two additional doctors tell us why they think more of their contemporaries have chosen to stay away, and what could be done to bring them home.

“It was more personal I think coming out of med school, and coming out of residency, I was a bit hesitant to come back to the community, I just thought you know I want to be independent, I want to be kind of, develop my own sense of style and practice and then be comfortable with myself in how I practice.”

Cigarroa High School graduate Doctor Robert Flores told KGNS why Laredo was not his first choice when deciding where to practice medicine at first.

“I did a lot of thinking… did I want to be in a big cities or back in Laredo? I think I tried big city living, I think at the end of the day I always missed that sense of community, family… so that’s how I ended up back home.”

It’s that sense of community, together with incentives, he says could work in bringing more physicians home.

“Even though they could have an opportunity somewhere else, the incentives you provide here back home outweighs that, and plays a larger role, I think that’s a possibility just incentivizing college students/high school students with the opportunity that their job is secured here if you want to come back and then offer little incentives and bonuses.”

For that to happen, CEO of Doctors Hospital, Emma Montes-Ewing who spearheads recruiting at the hospital, says they must begin talking to students early about choosing a career in medicine.

“This is going to be great and these are the things you can do if you were to choose to become a physician, and engaging them in the process early on,” said Montes-Ewing.

A message that should include the good things Laredo has to offer.

“So I think that changing the belief system a little bit to where yes, we know physician recruitment can be difficult because the supply is not there, because this is a great town- a town where physicians support other physicians.”

A network of support that Alexander High School graduate Doctor Ramon De La Torre says is important for new physicians.

“A lot of it is about quality of life- not just socially- but also professionally. And a big thing that we always want to have professionally is an environment of cooperation.”

Cooperation that will help new physicians transition from big academic centers to small community hospitals.

“Much like an academic setting, have these open discourses with fellow colleagues and say, ‘hey, I have this patient, I have a sidebar consult, I have this question, or vice versa where they... the communication between specialties where I need this particular study done,” said Doctor De La Torre.

Because at the end of the day, even with Laredo’s challenges, the overall goal is the same.

“Because Laredo needs physicians, and there’s many great physicians here… we can go down a list of names, but they need help, we need help, and we want to continue to grow, and working together and coming back to contribute is how we grow.”

So in summary, talking to kids early in high school about the need for physicians in their hometown, offering incentives to come to Laredo and establishing an environment of cooperation among all physicians in town could be the formula that may just have more physicians coming to Laredo.

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