Medical Student Shortage and Residents Training

Armen Hareyan's picture
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As our population grows, it is estimated that we will have a critical shortage of medical students unless enrollment in medical schools increases. Rebecca Voelkler in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (12/17/08) notes that by 2020 if the present rate of medical school enrollment continues, that there will be a shortage of 85,000 to 96,000 physicians. Then there is the additional problem of the classes that contain fifty-percent women. If the women doctors don't chose to practice or just work part-time, as seems to be happening a lot these days, we will have an even worse shortage of physicians.

In addition to this possible shortage, there is another problem involving the training of physicians. There is growing concern that the long working hours presently required during the training period are the cause of many errors becasue of the young doctors' fatigue.

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Yet the residents today have a far easier time that many of us had in our internships and residencies. I worked every other night during my training period, which meant I worked about 34 hours each shift. Often we could try and sleep at night, but were always on-call. Yes, we had to learn how to cope and most of us did.

Of great concern to me is that hospital administrators are making very large salaries in many cases, but not paying their board-certified, in-hospital doctors well. Yet these doctors are expected to work very long hours. Anesthesiologists are critical in a hospital and yet many work very long hours for little pay as compared to administrators, who may have only an MBA or RN degree.

The author of this story is Dr. Chralotte Thompson who blogs at http://drthompsonsbooks.typepad.com

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