I know you're surrounded by well informed people with cultivated opinions. I know you are facing an unimaginably difficult task: leading this country through really difficult economic times, coping with foreign policy nightmares, and improving the function of our health care system.
As a chemistry educator many of my students are pursuing careers in health care. I teach people who want to be nurses, people who want to be physician assistants, doctors, and pharmacists. I teach in a place that is, at its roots, a rural community. We are geographically somewhat isolated, and people come from many more rural areas around here to get their health care.
Health care is increasingly becoming tough to find in those outlying communities, and our community is limited in its capacity to train nursing and other health care students because even our regional hospital is not all that large. At my college, the health programs are tremendously competitive, and the limit to producing new health care workers appears to be a lack of money to make it possible for the college and the supporting hospital to train very many people.
So I have people anxious to become nurses and doctors who love this part of the world and want to live and work in places like this. Yet the training for these people draws them into urban places, and debt after school often draws them into specialization or urban jobs so that they can not return.
If we are going to invest huge sums of money into reconstructing our economy, I would be delighted to see some of that money used to produce a system that can support the education of these people in a fashion that allows them to come back to small communities for their professional practice. This is what they want, and it is what our communities need, especially as the population of our country--most dramatically in these very same rural communities--becomes older and needs more care.