Is it a good or bad time for students who dream of going to medical school? April 28, 2010Posted by Jill in Health, Medicine, Policy.
With the passing of the 2010 healthcare bill, many more Americans will have access to healthcare. Prior to the bill many people were unable to afford the astronomical costs of seeing a doctor regularly, not to mention paying for surgery or major medical procedures without insurance.
For many aspiring medical students, this is great!
There will be a need for more physicians to accommodate the number of patients that will be receiving this affordable healthcare. The need for primary care physicians is expected to skyrocket based off of the sheer number of physicians needed to meet the demand of a growing number of potential patients.
Where do we get these primary care physicians?
The problem that arises with the growing need of primary care physicians is that so many medical school students want to specialize in a particular field of medicine such as surgery or cardiology because they have a particular passion for their interest. Also, physicians that specialize have a significantly higher income than those who are primary care physicians. Today, the United States is already shorthanded when it comes to primary care physicians and it will be difficult to meet the needs of the growing number of patients as they receive greater healthcare benefits.
There are some medical schools in the United States such as the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine that are responding to this call for primary care physicians by encouraging their students to get into primary-care medicine, such as pediatrics, OB-GYN, internal medicine, and family practice. With the annually increasing cost of medical school, it is difficult to steer students away from high-paying specialties. The University of Colorado, along with other medical schools, has started a “pipeline” program which allows promising high school students direct admission to medical school following college and help them with their debt, so as to encourage students to defer the cost of medical school. Also, increasing the size of medical school classes has helped in graduating more physicians per year, which will help in meeting the soon high demands of patient care.
How do we encourage students to be primary care physicians?
Because the cost of medical school is so high, more programs need to be implemented to help medical students pay for their medical school and not have to rely on specializing in order to repay med school loans. The benefit of going to medical school at this point is that the job market isn’t saturated in the field for primary care physicians, but the question remains, who is willing to take the pay cut and potentially lengthen the amount of time it will take to pay off the debts of medical school?
If our government is willing to provide insurance to those who could not before afford it, should our government also be responsible for helping medical students with their tuition costs in order to provide these new patients with the proper healthcare that our country is known for as well as the manpower to manage the number of new insured patients?