PUEBLO, Colo. — There is a shortage of doctors in rural areas across the country. A Pueblo South High School grad plans to help solve that problem.
Ian Espinoza graduates with nearly half a million dollars in scholarships.
He is heading to the University of Colorado in Boulder to become a rural pediatric emergency physician.
"We too often see, you know, rural areas go forgotten, where so many people can pass away from preventable illnesses," said Espinoza.
After medical school, Espinoza may come back to work in his hometown.
"It excites me," said the owner of Steel City Pediatrics Dr. James Simony.
Dr. James Simony said Pueblo County is in dire need of pediatricians. Ideally, a community needs one pediatrician for every 10,000 people.
Pueblo County has more than 170,000 people. Dr. Simony said to meet that need, the number of pediatricians must almost double.
"There are some nurse practitioners who are kind of filling in those spaces, but they're really not trained to see the volume that we can," said Dr. Simony.
He said the shortage means there are more doctors overloaded with patients.
"This winter was the first season in my career that I've ever been afraid," said Dr. Simony.
Espinoza will be studying biochemistry for free at CU Boulder. In a program that emphasizes rural health care.
He is just one of ten students accepted into this undergrad program. It could earn him a reserved sport at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
"It shows people in Pueblo that it is possible to do these high achieving stuff, we're not stuck right, it's not impossible to be successful here," said Espinoza.
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