Next generation of doctors return to Arkansas to practice - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Next generation of doctors return to Arkansas to practice

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Dr. Sarah Boone, Arkansas Pediatric Clinic Dr. Sarah Boone, Arkansas Pediatric Clinic
Dr. Evan Newbolt, McFarland Eye Centers Dr. Evan Newbolt, McFarland Eye Centers

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - As new doctors finish training across the country, many are returning to the Natural State to practice. In fact, Arkansas has one of the highest state retention rates of physicians, according to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Sarah Bone grew up in Central Arkansas, attending UAMS and completing her pediatrics residency with UAMS and Arkansas Children's Hospital this summer.

Despite looking at other states, she decided on a job at Arkansas Pediatric Clinic.

"Every time we would leave, it was exciting," Bone said of her trips to interview in other states. "But I tell you what, every time we drove back into Little Rock or flew back into Little Rock, it was so nice to see that skyline and be coming home."

Home is something that keeps many doctors in the state, and even brings some back.

Evan Newbolt is an ophthalmologist with McFarland Eye Center, originally from Mena. He also completed residency this summer in West Virginia.

"The lure of family, friends and Arkansas brought me back," Newbolt said.

According to a 2010 study by the Center for Workforce Studies of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 58% of physicians who trained at UAMS stayed in the state to practice.

Dr. Richard Wheeler, Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at UAMS, said the study ranked Arkansas third in the nation for retention, only behind Texas and California. Bone said although pay can be higher in other states, factoring in the cost of living can make a difference.

She added there is need for physicians in Arkansas.

"Even as a country, in primary care we're under-served," Bone explained. "The communities are under-served so I think growing up in those small communities they recognized that, that those people need physicians to take care of them."

She said to some in her program, returning home was about responsibility.

"They're from small little towns in Arkansas and they have people that are depending on them to come back and work in those communities," Bone said.

Newbolt said completing his residency in another state gave him a new perspective and new tools to bring back to his home state.

"I thought I wanted to explore and that sort of thing, but then when you're gone for four years, you find, yeah, there's definitely a drawback," Newbolt said. "Something pulling you back to Arkansas."

That retention also goes for residency programs. Wheeler said over the last 10 years, about 50 percent of UAMS medical students selected residencies in Arkansas.