By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Missouri lawmakers have approved incentives for rural doctors to help train those entering the medical profession.
The legislation will provide a $1,000 tax credit for physicians who provide preceptorships to medical students.
St. Joseph state Representative Brenda Shields sponsored the measure, saying that a preceptor is someone who acts as an instructor and a mentor.
“And a preceptorship is an amount of time that a student spends with a practicing physician to learn about their position, so that they can start thinking about what specialty that they want to go into,” Shields tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post.
This incentive doesn’t specifically target rural doctors. It does though offer the tax break for physicians who aren’t otherwise compensated for mentoring medical students. Shields explains that, typically, urban and suburban doctors receive compensation from their hospitals to act as mentors. Rural doctors often don’t have a sponsor.
A doctor offering a preceptorship to medical students can receive a maximum of $3,000 in tax credits annually for mentoring three students.
During legislative hearings held at the state Capitol in Jefferson City during the regular legislative sessions, medical students related to lawmakers their experience learning under rural physicians. The students told legislators they not only learned a lot about the profession, they learned a lot about life. It led many to set up practice in rural communities.
“And that they had chosen to become a family physician because of the preceptorship that they had received from their preceptor,” according to Shields. “So, it was basically really a way for us to encourage physicians to do this type of work.”
The preceptorship tax credit program was one of several pieces incorporated in Senate Bill 718. As the regular legislative session wound down, lawmakers worried their legislation would run out of time sought vehicles to carry it. SB 718 took on a lot of freight.
The bill also includes scholarships for students in dual enrollment classes; a requirement that Missouri high schools offer computer science courses; gives colleges permission to help student-athletes to earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness; creates a program to help adults earn a high school diploma; requires colleges to post the suicide and crisis lifeline number of student ID cards; requires state colleges to give course credit to any student scoring three or higher on an advanced placement exam; and provides bankruptcy protections for Missouri 529 college savings plans.
Oh, it also designates the third week in September as "Historically Black College and University Week." In fact, that was the original intent of the bill.
As for the preceptorship program, it dovetails nicely into efforts to encourage medical professionals to consider setting up practice in rural communities. Rural Missouri has a shortage of doctors.
Shields says it is hoped that medical students who get a taste of serving rural communities might choose to serve there.
“This is critically important for rural Missouri and that’s what we’re targeting right now,” Shields says. “Many times when these students have the opportunity to see what medicine is like in rural Missouri, it presses their heart and they are more than happy to do it. It’s hard to make a choice that you want to become a rural physician if you’ve never had the opportunity to see it and feel it.”