Iowa’s medical professionals are nearing a milestone in the effort to produce more clinical staff for hospitals and clinics across the state. The Iowa Hospital Association’s Scott McIntyre says a scholarship program created last year is nearing a million-dollars.

For each year a student gets that scholarship, they’re required to commit to work at a hospital in the state. It helps a new medical-school graduate get started in the profession, and McIntyre says hopefully they’ll remain here. He says, “We’re trying to keep that ‘brain drain’ from happening in Iowa hospitals.” He says it’s not quite a “free ride” through med school.

It’s a two-year program offered to students who are already in school and are within two years of graduating from their program. Still, it’s up to three-thousand dollars toward the cost of a medical education, and McIntyre says the 2005 graduates are now starting their jobs in hospitals in the state.

It’s come full circle, he says, from the concept of keeping students in Iowa to getting them jobs in hospitals. That, he declares, means the program is “officially a success.” The fields in which students can get the scholarship were chosen from areas where there’s the greatest shortage of healthcare workers.

Nursing, occupation therapy, physical therapy, radiation technology — McIntyre says there are a lot of choices. Last year 200 people applied for the scholarships, and 26 were granted. He says the hospitals in Iowa are involved in the process, as CEOs of the medical centers are on the team that chooses students who’ll get the scholarships.