Healthcare News & Insights

More docs-in-training: Is that good news?

In the next few years, nearly 24 medical schools will have opened their doors to students. And a debate is raging over whether that’ll help or hurt the health care field.

The schools — some are new and independent, others are extensions of existing universities — are responding to a very dire need for more physicians due to the aging of the population and the already acute need for clinicians in underserved communities. In fact, several of the schools are billing themselves as “specializing” in training general practitioners and family practice physicians. The hope: Adding many more doctors in those specialties will fill in some of the gaps in access to primary care, and improve overall health care quality.

But skeptics doubt many of these newly-minted docs will end up in family practices, or in rural communities. The reason is the same one that caused the current crisis: Doctors can make more money by specializing and/or working in more affluent metropolitan areas.

What’s your take? Do we need more doctors or more incentives for those already practicing to work in different specialties? Sound off in the comments.

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  1. Of course we need more GP’s particularly in rural areas. Basic GP training takes care of a large majority of the health care activity volume as the first line of defense and thereby leaving the more serious work for specialists. Rather than import doctors from India and the Far East where they have their own domestic needs to fill, let’s take reasonably bright us students and let them become doctors and make a committment to a profession as a GP.

  2. Most docs go into medical school not knowing ahead of time what kind of doc they want to be. Throughout medical school and residency, they are exposed to various specialties and subspecialties, and see what it’s like to work as a primary care doc and as a specialist. Given the huge loans that docs take to get through med school (on average around $200,000), the prospect of paying back these loans definitely has an impact on their career decisions. However, so do job availability, hours, family life, and many other factors. More and more physicians are choosing careers that give them flexibility and a better balance of family and professional life, and not necessarily subspecialties that traditionally are higher paying. I predict that there will be a glut of primary care physicians, and a shortage of specialists. I am a peds specialist, and work in an area with far more generalists than specialists, and don’t see that changing much.