I’ve lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for 20 years. It’s really a lovely place; the entire state is. Best weather you’ll ever find, stunning scenery, sunsets you can’t believe, really incredible friendly, down-to-earth people, low cost of living—we’re the best-kept secret around. (Okay, admittedly, Albuquerque’s got some crime issues right now, but I feel confident it’ll get better.) But one thing that is abysmal is our health care system.
We are a rural state with many people living below the poverty line. You know who doesn’t want to come live in a poor rural state? Doctors. All of them. We’re short on PCPs as well as specialists of all types. We have the oldest population of doctors in the country*. And many of them are on the verge of retirement. Wait times for appointments for PCPs is usually several weeks to months, and specialists? Get in line and hope you don’t drop dead before they can get you in. A rural population means living in small cities that might not have a lot of comforts a provider wants. A poor population means less reimbursement for services, and therefore, less money going to providers who may have hefty student loans to pay off. So why come to this beautiful place when they can head to California, Texas, or the east coast, and make a lot more money?
Oh, and once you actually get to see a provider, don’t count on seeing him/her again. In my two decades of living here, I’ve had at least 20 primary care providers. I’m now seeing my fifth endocrinologist since 2012. It’s a revolving door.
(This theme will come up again and again, so now you too can join the ranks of my family and friends who roll their eyes when I pull out this particular soapbox.)
Not only do I experience the frustration of dealing with a provider shortage as a patient, I myself am a rural health care provider. So I see this from both sides. I am fully aware that NM is not the only state plagued with this issue, but I live here so that’s where I’m writing about.
*I’m not going to provide sources for all the stuff I put in here. This is my experience, my opinion, etc., I can say what I want. But… feel free to read this article if you wish to see that I’m not just making this up. https://www.abqjournal.com/1281756/feeling-the-pain-2.html