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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Toolkit Analyzes Role of Graduate Medical Education in Addressing Physician Shortages

October 23, 2014 | Workforce | Comments
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In response to ongoing national discussions of the health care workforce shortage, the Alliance for Health Reform has released a toolkit analyzing the physician shortage and providing recommendations for increasing recruitment and placement efforts. Specifically, the toolkit analyzes the role graduate medical education (GME) programming plays in strengthening the workforce, with positive effects for physicians across all specialties, including psychiatry. Eighty million Americans currently live in a mental health shortage area, according to the Health Resources Services Administration.

The toolkit highlights key topics of debate within the field and summarizes potential solutions various groups have proposed.  The key issue areas include:

  • Geographical disparities in the availability of physicians: The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that an additional 7,000 physicians are needed in federally-designated health professional shortage areas. The National Health Service Corps provides incentives for residents to work in these underserved communities but recommends the creation of new residency slots in rural communities that are connected via telemedicine to urban hospitals for training.
  • Training a better prepared and practice-ready medical workforce: There is continued concern that newly-trained physicians are not sufficiently prepared to practice in today’s health field. In 2009, in response to these concerns, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education began restructuring its accreditation system. Many medicals schools are requiring studies in medical humanities and an enhanced focus on “physician competencies deemed relevant to the health of individuals and populations.”
  • How to address the physician shortage: The Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts a shortage of more than 45,000 primary care physicians and 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists in the next decade. To further recruitment efforts, the American Medical Association (AMA) is requesting an increase in federal funding for new residency positions within the GME program.

The remainder of the toolkit provides analysis on literature from the last five years discussing and analyzing the workforce, GME programming and solutions for overall recruitment and engagement with physicians. Read the full toolkit here.