Today the New York Times reported that by 2015 the United States will have 62,900 fewer doctors than the country needs. By 2025 the same healthcare experts estimate that the shortfall will exceed 100,000.
The opinion held by many is that the doctor shortage will only worsen with the Affordable Care Act insuring millions of more Americans, even stating that the “[increase in] coverage will not translate into care.”
The article goes on to discuss how neither the medical profession, nor the government, can do anything to mend the doctor shortage. I disagree.
Medical schools are the most competitive graduate school to gain attendance. Why not open up attendance to more students? The medical schools do not necessarily have to open up their doors to all who want to be a doctor, but they could accept a larger percentage of students. Nor do the medical schools have to lower their standards in order to accept more students. There are several qualified students who do not make the cut simply because admissions are limited. There are several students who do not gain acceptance to medical school that would make fantastic doctors if given the decade-long training that is required. Additionally, there are several doctors who do gain acceptance to medical schools that make terrible doctors.
I think the Association of American Medical Colleges or the American Medical Association — whoever controls medical school admissions — could easily begin chipping away at the doctor shortage by providing more students with the opportunity to train at U.S. medical schools.
Many of these rejected students may enter medical school intending to work in the areas where there is a shortage of doctors. Keep in mind that there is NO shortage of dermatologists or plastic surgeons; obviously wealth draws many accepted medical students to that specialty. There is however a large shortage in primary care physicians, and these shortages are mostly in impoverished areas where patients are covered by Medicaid or have no insurance at all.
There is no easy solution to the doctor shortage, but blaming baby boomers and the health care law is no solution at all. The medical associations should consider allowing a greater number of students to enter medical colleges. Maybe a greater number of students will enter with the goal to assist those in need and not to make millions for a living.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.