A new study finds that the state is at least 250 healthcare providers short of what is needed in underserved communities. Michelle Holst is a community health consultant with the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Holst says the national study confirms a problem the state has know its had for a long time — they’re short on health care providers in underserved areas of rural Iowa. Holst says finding the doctors and other healthcare providers to fill the gaps won’t be easy.

Holst says they know other states are in the same situation and Iowa is in competition with those others states, and it will take an investment to get the healthcare providers here. She attended a national conference recently and found that young doctors are looking for help repaying their loans as an incentive to come to rural areas.

Holst says getting young doctors into Iowa is a similar problem to getting young people to stay in the state after graduation. Holst says the efforts to recruit and retain doctors and other healthcare professionals would coincide with efforts to keep other young people here. She says increasing pay is another incentive that’s needed.

Holst says there’s not a lot of time to waste. She says the recruiting of doctors and nurse practitioners needs to start immediately, along with talking to young students about entering the health profession. The study conducted by the National Association of Community Health Centers estimates that nearly 242-thousand Iowans will be without reliable access to care by 2015.