Friday, August 3, 2012

A shortage of doctors? Hmmm.

I guess there's going to be a shortage of doctors:
In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now. 
Other places around the country, including the Mississippi Delta, Detroit and suburban Phoenix, face similar problems. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000. 
Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.
I guess we'll know in ten years whether or not Doctorjobber starts her blog.

[Why don't more chemists move towards becoming physicians? It's not the science that's hard, it may be the undesirability of dealing with patients, etc.? (At one point in my life, I wanted to be a physician, but I've found that I love working with the same small team, day after day, and not meeting any new people. Not so for a physician.)]

16 comments:

  1. Well, as a PhD chemist that cant find work, I would love to go back to school to become a Physician. Two things hold me back: 1) Time, I would not be practicing until I was about 40 years old. 2) The exorbitant cost of medical school on top of the college loans I already have.

    If there is going to be a shortage, then maybe they should start programs for qualified people for tuition/loan forgiveness.

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    1. They do, it's called the military. Offer up a few years of your life to the Army and you'll get medical school covered.

      If I were in my late 20s, I'd probably do this. Early 40s, not such a good idea, although I do know of a former college around my age who just finished medical school after leaving pharma.

      Delete
    2. They have loan forgiveness programs for certain medical disciplines (like geriatrics) and for doctors that plan to practice in under-served areas.

      Delete
  2. it seems like now would be the best time to be in med school. the demand for doctors is going to be super high. this may lower salaries from $300K to $200K, but big deal.

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  3. AMA got really successful, lobbying hard in 90s against the influx of foreign medical graduates. First, there was a sudden change in the qualifying rules and an additional difficult third exam was added to the USMLE exam pre-residency process, to make the certification of foreign medical graduates in US far more time consuming and expensive. Then AMA lobbied against granting wavers from J visa for medical professionals - since most foreigners came as postdocs on J visa, this made the foreigners pretty much ineligible to waive themselves from J to H1 visas even if they found employer who would sponsor them, and were required to leave the contry at the end of their J visa. Finally, AMA lobied hard against state-sponsorship of medical resident training - this made in many states foreign medical graduates disqualified from entering residency programs even with a valid H1 work visa or a green card - the hospitals simply would not get the state money for training foreigners. So no wonder there is not enough doctors in US.

    My ex was in residency training in US in 90s, we had friends (a couple - a staff physician in NYC and and a tenure track assistant professor) who got kicked out of country with their 3 small children because they would not get J wavaiver as foreign med graduates.

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    1. And today, every MD has job security for the duration of their career and a nice paycheck. Every PhD chemist, hey, at least we have food stamps and unemployment (for now).

      As a dues paying member, I would prefer the ACS moved more in the direction of the AMA. Transition lobbying dollars from quashing open access to restructuring the academic visa system.

      You'd get less chemists, sure, but you also might get some brighter folks moving into the field if they know there is a stable future ahead.

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    2. ACS is a mega-publishing house masquerading as a professional organization for the tax purposes. Their top officers make million a year salary and they won't give a hoot about the membership as long as the ACS can keep the tax exempt status. ACS is completely in bed with the big industry and big academia (who are the subscrubers of their journals) and it would be against the ACS best interest to advocate measures that can possibly shrink the size of academic research in US. Asian posdocs and government grants rolling in, publications rolling out.

      Delete
  4. Nursing faculty, too, it seems. From NPR's story today: "Nationwide, nearly 8 percent of nursing school jobs – about 1,200 — are vacant." http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/08/03/156213925/nursing-schools-brace-for-faculty-shortage

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    1. Nursing faculty is an interesting problem. It's hard to get experienced nurses to:

      1) go back to school, i.e. stop working, and pay tuition
      2) to become faculty, i.e. to get the same pay or lower

      Benefits, of course, are that you're not working 12 hour shifts on your feet, etc. But still, the cost/benefit isn't there yet.

      Delete
  5. CJ, I agree. I think the science isn't a problem for chemists becoming doctors, but rather the different types of social interaction inherent in the job.

    As a doctor, you spend a lot of time with patients who won't understand or do everything you tell them. It's a broad spectrum of sick people out there. As a chemist, you work with (fewer) smart people who, like you, are good with science. I'm a chem BS applying to med school, and the academic load does not scare me while meeting patients does (a little).

    Also, perhaps some chemists have looked at the pre-med grind and decided that they'll leave it to people who are more committed to the idea. If the reason you want to be a physician is high wages and job security, you'll either have to lie or have a hard time beating out idealists.

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  6. Now: Glut of PhDs facing uncertain jobs market
    25 years on: Future glut of MDs faces uncertain job market

    Generations later, they'll claim this very blog post as the straw that broke Doctorjobber's back.

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  7. When my temp stint runs out, I will be applying to several MD-PhD programs (I was in the process of doing this before my temp stint started and delayed the process). I will be 40 something when it is all said and done, but at least I will have 20 some years of earnings to look forward too.

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  8. Strangely it was only after getting my PhD that i had any interest in medicine. "Alexander wept" maybe? Alas for my age, poor undergrad record and squeamishness at doing anatomical dissections.

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  9. I really, really wish I had the right personality to be a doctor, but I just don't. I wouldn't want to be amidst all the disease, the damage, the suffering. Watching children die. Telling parents that their children died. If I made a mistake that led to the death of a patient, I would be very unforgiving toward myself. I guess my skin is too thin.

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  10. I was thinking about it... but I'm afraid of blood and needles taking blood. Strangely enough, I'm more afraid of my own blood than that of others, so I think I would be able to force myself to deal with it psychologically after a while. But I'm also squeamish about people dying and some really disgusting deseases. Also leeches...

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  11. When I was young I considered becoming a doctor, but then decided that rather than treating people one at a time it would be more efficient to go into pharma and help greater numbers through drug discovery. Rather than treat individuals treat cohorts.

    However with all the problems that pharma faces following my chemistry PhD I plan on going in to the energy sciencies, more or less for the same reason - rather than treat a cohort treat a species. I want to attempt to do the greatest good with what work I can do.

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