WSJ published an article in 2013, in which the main focus was the shortage of physicians. To analyze the reasons for the shortage of physicians and the strategies to overcome the shortage, WSJ invited the experts to give their opinions. Many experts participated in the discussion and gave their views. The major focus was the shortage of primary-care physicians in the United States. Most of the experts were of the view that the shortage of physicians is due to the high debt of medical schools. All the experts gave different suggestions. Some said that by decreasing the debt of medical schools and by equalizing the international medical degree to the American medical degree the shortage could be overcome. Some gave suggestions that by increasing the number of nondoctors, and nurses, primary health care can be provided to the people. Some suggested that by increasing the number of hospitals and by advancing hospital alignments, the number of physicians can be increased in the hospitals. However, the study concluded that there is a need to make some strategies and policies to overcome the shortage of primary care physicians.
Answers to Questions:
- In the article of WSJ, “The Experts: What Should Be Done to Fix the Predicted U.S. Doctor Shortage?” only the shortage of the predicted doctors, in the United States of America, has been discussed. It is predicted that this shortage is due to the medical-school debt which is necessary to get a license as a doctor. According to Bob Wachter, there is no shortage of doctors in the United States but just a doctor maldistribution both by specialty and geographically. There are many cardiologists and psychiatrists in U.S. A, but there is a requirement for more primary care doctors everywhere in the United States.
- According to Gurpreet Dhaliwal, the key barriers to the increasing number of physicians in the U.S. is the lack of funding for residency training and the lack of nurse practitioners, clinics, physician assistants, hospitals, and health care rooms.
- To address these issues, the government must increase funding for the training residency of medical-school graduates. The training sites and training programs must be developed for the success of generalist physicians and primary care physicians. The number of nurse practitioners, clinics, hospitals, healthcare rooms, and physician assistants must be increased.
- The hospitals can recruit more physicians by addressing physician payment disparities, real workforce planning, and encouraging the adoption of technologies.
- Physician-hospital integration and alignment have a very positive impact on physician recruitment. This integration and alignment provide better work conditions to the physicians. Also, more technical facilities and profession-related resources will increase the chances for the recruitment of physicians and other healthcare staff.
- International medical programs are very expensive, and so every medical graduate student cannot afford it. Moreover, most of the hospital prefers to recruit doctors who are having international medical programs degree which is why there are fewer medical institutes in U.S. A. However now there is a requirement to make a new policy in which the international medical programs must be equivalent to the American medical programs. This will provide more physicians to the United States (Virginia, 2013).
Figure 1 Source: (Hing & Hsiao, 2014)
This graph shows that from 2002-2012 there have been more specialty physicians than primary care physicians. The graph shows that there were 48 primary care physicians per 0.1 million population of the United States whereas, there were 69 specialty physicians per 0.1 million population of United States in 2012. This shows the shortage of primary care physicians in the United States.
- Some other strategies to overcome the physician shortage may be;
- Expand the scope of non-MD providers’ practice.
- Increase care delivery sites.
- Tie medical school loans.
- Deliver more care in the home.
- I would love to discuss George Halvorson’s opinion to forgive the medical school debt. Well, I am not agreed with his opinion. How is possible to forgive debt for medical schools where the other institutions are having high fee schedules for the students? Will it be justified to give free education to a medical student where the engineering student is paying a high amount for getting a license? Else there is another option that the Government must make all the school debt free which is completely impossible. No doubt that there is a high requirement for primary care physicians and we know that students cannot complete their degrees because of the debt hurdle of medical schools, but even then it is not justified to forgive debt for medical schools. Also, this policy will leave a very negative impact on the education system, and everyone will start to approach debt-free medical institutions which will result in an excess of physicians. There must be an appropriate policy to meet the shortage of primary care physicians which will have a very positive impact on the health care system as well as the education system of the United States of America (WIENS, 2013).
Hing, E., & Hsiao, C.-J. (2014). State Variability in Supply of Office-based Primary Care Providers: The United States, 2012. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Virginia, U. o. (2013). The simple policy change could solve U. S. physician shortages in 25 states. ScienceDaily .
WIENS, C. (2013). The Experts: What Should Be Done to Fix the Predicted U.S. Doctor Shortage? Wall Street Journal.