No Family Docs Left

Here is an interesting blog from the NY Times.  Somehow, they just realized that there aren’t enough primary care docs around.   If you can’t read it then let me highlight some points:

  • For starters, only 2 percent of all medical students in a recent study expressed interest in practicing primary care as a general internist.
  • And once trained, primary care practitioners are particularly vulnerable to burnout and more likely to leave clinical practice than doctors in subspecialties like cardiology or gastroenterology.
  • What the researchers discovered, however, was that over the course of their training, almost half the young doctors who began wanting to become primary care doctors changed their minds, most deciding to pursue a subspecialty career instead. And by the time the three-year residency was finished, those numbers dwindled even further, with only one out of five indicating that they wanted to become primary care physicians.
  • “The environment is such that even the primary care track training programs don’t have a fighting chance,” said lead author Dr. Colin P. West, an associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and associate program director of the internal medicine residency training program.
  • Much of the problem lies in what general practitioners have to look forward to. General practitioners work as many hours as, or more, than their subspecialty colleagues. Yet they have among the lowest reimbursement rates. They also shoulder disproportionate responsibility for the bureaucratic aspects of patient care, spending more time and money obtaining treatment authorization from insurance companies, navigating insurers’ ever changing drug formularies and filling out health and disability forms.
  • “All the paperwork,” Dr. West said, “interferes with the patient-doctor relationship that drew them to general medicine in the first place and pushes trainees away from primary care unless they are remarkably committed to its goals.”
  • “If we go with the simplistic view that opening more medical schools and more training slots will give us more primary care doctors, we may get a few more, but we’re mostly going to end up with more subspecialists,”
  • “The residents are voting with their feet,” he added. “And they are telling us something really important.”

This blog is not just about my plight or the plight of doctors.  This blog is also about how the idiots in charge of our healthcare system have screwed it up so bad that it also affects the public.  People may sneer and not care about the loss of primary care docs but it will bite them in the ass.  There are less and less around to take care of THEM!  Down here in Virginia, where I am, there seems to be an extreme need as many people I see in the urgent care center don’t have  family docs.  And it will only get worse.  Trust me, this is a major crisis and the NY Times piece only was the tip of the iceberg.



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