News Column

Shortage of Primary Care Physicians Plagues US

Dec. 25, 2012
Doctors

A shortfall of 100,000 U.S. primary care doctors is expected by 2020, mainly because the pay is about half that of specialists, a non-profit group said.

New doctors soon learn specialties offer higher pay -- primary care doctors make about $212,840, compared with $384,467 for specialists -- greater stature and shorter hours, not to mention making it easier to cover educational debt, the Medical Group Management Association calculated.

Dr. Daniel Podolsky, president of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said the medical school does not broach the issue of physician shortages, but medical students hear about it, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Podolsky said his medical school served many missions, which included not only primary care doctors but medical researchers and subspecialists that were in short supply, but the students make the choices for their career path.

Dr. Troy Fiesinger, president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, recommended sending students into rural areas for a month or two early in medical school.

"We have to get them out of the big hospitals and into communities where we need doctors," he told The Morning News. "Without them, there's going to be a huge strain on our healthcare system."



Source: Copyright United Press International 2012


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