Health Care Reform and Doctors

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doctor_reduced Finally there is some discussion in the big media about the shortage of Primary Care Physicians and the stalling effort to reform and improve the health care system in the U.S.  Since my oldest daughter has decided to go to medical school, I have been thinking about the choice she will eventually have to make as to what area of medicine to practice in.  She seems to be most interested in a general practice area or pediatrics, both of which have are said to get chosen by declining numbers of new doctors.  The reason is simple.  Doctors now leave medical school with crushing levels of student loan debt.  With the average age of medical school graduates now approaching 30 years old, and then having another 4 to 8 years of residency, starting in practice in your mid-thirties with an average school debt of $130,000, it is easy to see why doctors choose to enter specialty areas where they earn 3, 4, or 5 times the income of primary care doctors.

If the U.S. health care system is to be fixed, increasing the number primary care physicians will be a big part of the fix.  Incentives must be put in place now to let current students see there will be help available if the choose to practice in the most needed areas of medicine.  Because becoming an M.D is such a long and arduous process, and medical students often tend to be focused, goal oriented people, letting them know early in their education that they have viable options to practice primary care is critically important.

One of the recent articles can be read at this link.  Let’s hope that our President and his political cohorts make this a part of  any reform.  Without a solution to this particular health care delivery problem, providing primary care to all people will be impossible.

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Will Sig
1 Linda Prout

I am not sure more doctors is the answer to our health care problem. Clearly doctors save lives, but we may be relying too heavily on the medical system for our health. According to the AMA doctors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Some medical professionals argue they are the leading cause of death. National death rates dramatically decline when doctors stop practicing, such as in a strike. This happened in a labor dispute in Israel. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/320/7249/1561

Perhaps the focus should be on ways to turn around agricultural subsidies for corn sugar and more financial support for sustainable farmers. At least 80% of our health problems are attributed to poor diet, not a drug or doctor shortage.

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2 Steve

Hi Will,
Congrats to your daughter. We need more people like her.
I think you hit the nail on the head with this post, that it isn’t just the “cost” of health care, but also having enough doctors, especially as the population ages.
I don’t agree with Linda that doctors cause death, but do agree that we could probably cut the need for doctors and health care in this country IN HALF if people would live healthier lives (eat less, exercise more, etc). Oh well…
The important thing is CONGRATS to your daughter! ~ Steve
.-= Steve´s last blog ..Belated Happy Fathers Day =-.

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3 dental

This student loan debt can be crippling to many who are trying to get into the medical field. It puts a lot of pressure on them to get a very good job just so they can get out of debt and start getting into the black. Good to hear your daughter is using her life to help others though, and I hope she succeeds. I’m sure you are proud of her.

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4 Will

Yeah Steve, Linda is a real good advocate of living a healthy lifestyle and you are correct that we could cut the need for health care greatly just by improving diet and lifestyle. I am not perfect myself in that area, but when I take note of what almost everyone I see eats I am astounded they can survive more that a few months. The human body is a very resilient thing indeed. That article about the Israeli doctors is eye opening.

Funny that 30 years ago any parent would be thrilled to have a child going to medical school. Even though I am very pleased she is so determined and sure of what she wants to do, I know that the medical profession has become a frustrating field in many ways. Maybe that will change if meaningful reform is accomplished?

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5 Anna

Let hope so. Will that is huge debt. I only had to worry about 14,000 to pay off, but I could never imagine 130,000. Anna 🙂
.-= Anna´s last blog ..Happy Father’s Day =-.

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