A lobbying campaign aims to convince state officials to provide forgivable loans to students studying to be doctors, if they agree to practice in Iowa once they graduate. Sue Huppert, a vice president at Des Moines University, made her pitch directly to Governor Branstad earlier this month.

“We’ve been working very closely with the American Academy of Family Practice. They have, in fact, taken the lead last year and as you may know we were successful in getting legislation through for the forgiveable loan,” Huppert said. “We were unable to fund it. You had some fiscal issues that you had to deal with in the past two years and we appreciate that you’ve done that — and now we are here asking for $2 million.”

That money would provide loans to 10 students at Des Moines University who are studying to be osteopathic physicians and another 10 students in the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine. The forgiveable loans would be made available to students just entering the programs, “who make a committment, up front, to practicing and staying in the state of Iowa,” she said.

According to the Iowa Medical Society, 43 percent of the doctors in Iowa today are above the age of 49.

“So this is definitely a workforce issue,” Huppert told the governor. “It’s definitely an economic development issue.”

A 2011 report from the American Association of Medical Colleges indicates only 22 percent of the students who graduate from Iowa’s two medical schools stay in Iowa to practice medicine.