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NW Minnesota town feels pinch as lone family doctor moves on

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The shortage of family doctors across the country has hit the small northwestern Minnesota town of Ada.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead says Ada's only family doctor, Dr. Jeff Peterson, has announced he is leaving his family practice in the town of 1,700 at the end of the year for a position at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Fargo.

The paper says Peterson was often on-call in Ada, because the town offers a full-service hospital and emergency room, and shares a campus with a nursing home.

Ada's hospital administrator told the Forum that he's confident a full-time replacement for Peterson will be found with someone who is willing to relocate to or near the city.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the country will be short 90,000 doctors across all practices in the next 10 years.

Among the factors for the shortage is the U.S. Census Bureau's projected 36 percent growth of Americans over age 65, the AAMC says.

Ada hospital owner Essentia Health told the Forum that the shortage of family doctors nationwide is also the result of a high number of retiring practitioners.

According to KSTP-TV, the Metro Minnesota Council on Graduate Medical Education is estimating that the state's shortage of doctors could reach 2,000 doctors in the next 10 years.

Magnifying the shortage of doctors is the government's implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the associate dean for Graduate Medical Education at the University of Minnesota Medical School says.

"The challenge of the Affordable Care Act is that it promises greater access to care for a much larger proportion of the population. And there have to be physicians to deliver that care," Dr. John Andrews told KSTP.

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