• We need more residency slots?

    Catherine Rampell writes about the primary care shortage:

    Again and again, we hear that the country has too few doctors, particularly for primary care. And Obamacare is supposed to make the shortage much worse in the coming years as more Americans become insured and try to shoehorn themselves into already crowded medical offices.

    But why, exactly, are doctors in such short supply?

    I had always assumed the culprit was medical school enrollment. But when I looked into those numbers, I found that they are actually increasing noticeably. Thanks to the opening of new medical schools and expanded admissions at existing ones, enrollment is projected to rise by 30 percent between 2002 and 2017, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That’s in addition, mind you, to the swelling number of med students studying abroad, with the goal of eventually practicing in the United States.

    TIE readers already know it’s not medical school applications going down. They’re at an all-time high.

    Rampbell gets into one of my pet peeves, the fact that hospitals likely make money off of residents. After all, by their last year of residency, they’re basically functioning as fully trained physicians, for a fraction of the salary. However, I think that demanding more residency slots ignores the fact that there are lots of unfilled spots each year. It’s more complicated than that. Getting more students to go into primary care will require some incentives.


    • Demanding more residency spots also ignores the fact that… almost 40% of all residency spots are filled by “foreign medical grads.”

      The US doesn’t train ANYWHERE near enough medical students each year.


      See “Table 2. There are still only about 16,000 new soon-to-be grads of U.S. medical schools each year, and there are more than 26,000 residency spots.

      • Your data link is flawed. The NRMP ignores the entire osteopathic educational system. That’s a major omission, considering that DO programs have increased by over 75 percent over the last 7 years.

        MD and DO programs combined have increased by over 50 percent over the last 10 years. There’s over 50 new medical schools (DO and MD) planned to open in the next 5 years.

        • “Your data link is flawed. The NRMP ignores the entire osteopathic educational system.”

          False, it’s right there in Table 2 “osteo”. Did you even ctrl+f “osteo” before writing that?

    • Another thought on the article:

      Catherine Rampell claims that residency slots in sought after subspecialties are surging whereas primary care residency slots are stagnant.

      This is most certainly NOT the case. Take a look at the NRMP data set and you will find that primary care residency slots have increased substantially whereas subspecialty residency slots have remained flat.