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Needed: Family physicians



Published: Sun, August 19, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Needed: Family physicians

It only makes sense that the Unit- ed States is on the verge of facing a shortage of primary care doctors as the various phases of the Affordable Care Act kick in.

One purpose of the act is to provide health coverage for the currently uninsured, and one of the ways in which health insurance companies attempt to keep their costs down is through preventative medicine. And preventative medicine primarily falls on the family physician.

Insurance companies already are attempting to shift some of that burden to wellness programs that involve nurses, telephone consultations and online services.

But when preventative strategies aren’t enough and sickness strikes, the doctor’s office is the place for patents to go —not to the more expensive emergency room.

Megan Smith, director of communications for the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, says Ohio is expected to have a shortage of 5,031 of those doctors by 2020. That means there would have to be 5,000 more future family physicians in the pipeline now.

Those are discouraging numbers, but the state can’t ignore unpleasant facts, hoping they’ll go away.

A generation ago, Ohio legislators attempted to address the looming doctor shortage with the creation of new medical schools, one of them being the then-Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, a consortium of Kent State University, the University of Akron and Youngstown State University, and another being an osteopathic medicine school at Ohio University.

State Sen. Harry Meshel of Youngstown, who pushed to expand medical education in the state at the time, said both schools were designed to produce family physicians. In the case of NEOUCOM, a six-year curriculum cut both the time and cost of producing physicians. Had its success at doing that become the model for other universities in the state, that 5,000-physician gap may not have been filled, but it would be smaller.

Ohio should be working on strategies to produce family physicians by offering tuition assistance or debt relief that make family practice more economically attractive.


Comments

1BabaGhanoush(106 comments)posted 2 years ago

This is a textbook example of why Private Enterprise always beats State Run Enterprise every time.

You cannot dump 10 mill, 20 mill or 30 mill people into the system without increasing doctors or hospitals and expect the system to perfom normally.

Look at Canada "health" system and its shortage of doctors, primarily Family Doctors or GP's.

Longer waiting times, shorter visits and fewer doctors to see all add up to what is coming here.

With Obamacare and its disincentives for doctors, no wonder there is a shortage of those who wish to practice medicine.

Obama is now reducing fees to doctors and hospitals and expects things to stay the same?

Doctors will retire and fewer doctors will replace them and hospitals will close or shorten hours to accomodate the shortage of doctors.

With more regulation and less freedom to practice there will only be chaos.

Suggest removal:

2MrBig(2 comments)posted 2 years ago

@BabaGhanoush: Are you kidding me? The answer to the physician shortage is MORE PHYSICIANS, not FEWER people receiving health care. You are completely out of touch. You and Mitt. . .

Suggest removal:


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