The Garden City Telegram
7/22/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Skin care

Blend of strategies key in luring dermatologist.

A variety of issues have combined to leave Garden City without a dermatologist.

In a state with a higher than average number of cases of deadly skin cancer — Kansas reportedly has 9 percent more new melanoma cases than the national average — it's surprising to know a city the size of Garden City has no dermatologist.

But Garden City is like many towns that have trouble recruiting dermatologists due to a national shortage of the specialists. A dermatologist considering Garden City would not only have to embrace the rural environment, but also a hectic schedule due to the high number of potential patients, which may not appeal to someone seeking a solo practice.

Patients in Garden City do have access to various kinds of treatment through primary care physicians or surgeons. That helps.

Still, to see a dermatologist — a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin and its associated structures — many residents of Garden City travel to Liberal, Ulysses, Dodge City and Hays, or outside Kansas. Newcomers to Garden City can find it tough to get established with an area dermatologist because they're so busy.

In response to the ongoing demand, St. Catherine Hospital has for years worked to recruit a dermatologist, and offers incentives that should help bring one to town.

At the same time, hospital officials rightly acknowledge the best path may be to grow their own. The community already has benefited from such success stories as local openings were filled by physicians who returned home after their schooling.

Homegrown talent can indeed be a boon, and not just in the medical field. In a part of the country where many businesses and other operations struggle to find qualified workers, it's always wise to do what it takes to encourage talented students to consider the opportunity in their hometown.

And as skin cancer cases threaten more Kansans, it helps to know there's a mix of strategies in place to lure a dermatologist to care for local residents — and, should that happen, give people in the region yet another reason to visit Garden City.