Paying for graduate medical education: what experts say

Jan 15, 2013

This morning, you might have heard the next in our Future Docs series, which looks at a projected doctor shortage and how graduate medical education funding could staunch or deepen that shortage.

If you'd like to delve a little deeper into the issue, here are a few reports and articles I consulted while working on the story. One note: not every academic is so sure we're going to face a doctor shortage. But the majority seem to agree, at the very least, that we will be needing more primary care doctors, the idea being that this kind of physician will be better at managing a diverse population with chronic illness at lower cost.

  • From the journal Health Affairs, a good backgrounder on the debate over the "size and scope of federal subsidies to support residency training of the nation's physicians." (August 2012)
  • The Institute of Medicine's not-yet-complete study of the "Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education," recommendations from which are expected later this year.
  • The American Medical Association's report (this is a .pdf) "Critical Condition: The call to increase graduate medical education funding" provides a set of recommendations for fixing the funding formula. The AMA continues to advocate for the issue.
  • One of a few pieces of proposed legislation addressing the issue, here's a link to S. 3201, the bill Sen. Jack Reed introduced in May, 2012.
  • On the projected physician shortage, the Association of American Medical Colleges has this overview of a raft of studies on the shortage.
  • David Goodman, MD, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at Dartmouth, doesn't believe we're facing a physician shortage. His perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine.

What does it all boil down to for me and you? You might have a hard time finding a primary care doctor who's taking new patients. Or you might find yourself seeking care in a very different kind of setting. There are lots of other possible impacts, many of which are down the road a bit. I'll keep you posted!