FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – According to health experts, Indiana is facing a major shortage of doctors because many are retiring. The state is trying to be proactive with the loss. Health fairs are just one way Indiana is attracting more people to medicine. It seems to be working, too.
Thousands of people packed Science Central Saturday afternoon for Doctor’s Day in Fort Wayne. Organizers hope it helps the community, while also sparking an interest in medicine in kids of all ages. The Fort Wayne Medical Society Alliance started the event 20 years ago with just a few doctors and has grown it into much more.
“It’s evolved into a medical career day without only physicians, but dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and engineers that work at the hospital,” Doctor’s Day chair Maria Krach said.
Both Parkview and Lutheran Hospitals along with dozens of other health professionals set up shop all over the museum. Families could play games and get free medical advice and services.
“Maybe they haven’t seen a doctor. Maybe they haven’t had a hearing test. Maybe they haven’t had their blood pressure checked in a while, so it might be that start to get them back into doing those routine visits for their children and themselves,” Krach said.
In addition to making the region healthier, Doctor’s Day also highlighted careers in medicine.
“Things like this are really important in trying to draw kids into science and possibly the medical field early,” Brittany Byerley, a second-year IU Medical School student, said.
“I have no doubts at all that an event like this is certainly starting to impact their career choices,” Executive Director at Science Central Martin Fisher said.
It worked for current medical school students Emily Krach and Ashely Berish. Both grew up coming to Science Central.
“It’s really brought me a lot of interest in medicine and I think a lot of kids here see all of this and they aspire to have careers in healthcare from coming here,” Krach, a first-year Marian University Osteopathic Medical School student, said.
“I’ve been definitely wanting to do this my whole life. Ever since I this tall and coming to Science Central and seeing the magic of science, I’ve always wanted to become a doctor,” Berish, a second-year IU Medical School student, said.
Organizers hope it also inspires younger kids to not just play doctor for the day, but rather a lifetime. It looks like that idea is catching on. 10-year-old Ariela Dawson said she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
“It’s just very interesting to get to work with people and make them feel better and stuff like that,” Dawson said.
The medical community said events like Doctor’s Day are key for bringing more people into the field.
“With the state of healthcare and the number of people that are sick and the declining number of physicians, it’s very important that the medical community keeps its numbers up,” Charles Hill, a first-year Marian University Osteopathic Medical School student, said.