Until physicians start earning more money or graduate from medical school with less debt, Ferrari is concerned that interest in endocrinology will continue to decrease.
"Will students end up picking specialties based on the availability of that specialty to help them pay off their debt quicker?" Ferrari said. "It's hard to know how much that weighs into (their decision)."
Dr. Glenn Crotty, chief operating office of Charleston Area Medical Center, said CAMC has two endocrinologists and is looking to recruit four more, while there are only about 3,000 in the entire country.
With fewer specialty doctors in practice, patients have to jostle for limited available appointments, he said.
And since they likely aren't trained in West Virginia, the chances are greater that specialty doctors will set up practice near the place they last trained, Shapiro said.