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New Law Could Fast Track Doctor Licensing

Getting doctors to move to Wyoming has long been a big problem, but maybe just borrowing them could be an alternative. A new interstate compact law could make it easier for more out-of-state doctors to practice in Wyoming by fast tracking their licensing process. The state continues to wrestle with a severe shortage of physicians that’s left many rural communities without adequate health care. Representative Sue Wilson of Cheyenne sponsored the bill and was excited to see Wyoming be the first to pass the law.

“The Utah legislature has passed it in both houses,” she says. “But it turns out their governor doesn’t sign things until the end of the session. So that’s why we were able to get Governor Mead to be the first in the nation. Because I ran downstairs and said, Quick, sign it!”

She says right now the long process of getting re-licensed is a big deterrent.  “Obviously, not too many doctors want to go through the hassle, and keeping track of paper work, of licensing in several states,” Wilson says.

She says the new law could attract dozens more doctors to the state, either to offer office hours a few days a week across state lines, or via tele-medicine in which patients connect with doctors via the internet.

Seven states must pass the law for the compact to go into effect. But Wilson says she expects that to happen by the end of the year since two states—South Dakota and Utah-- have already passed it with many more currently considering similar bills. 

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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